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Full text of "The travels of a philosopher [electronic resource]. Being observations on the customs, manners, arts, ... of several nations in Asia and Africa. Translated from the French of M. Le Poivre"

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Printed for P. and W. Wilson, J. Exshaw, 
H Saunders, W. Sleater, B. Gjuer- 
SON, D. Chamber LAiNE, J Hoey, jun. 
and J. Williams, M DCC LXX. 



LES Voyages d'un Phi- 
LOsoPHE of M. le Poivre have 
been much admired in France. 
They v^ere originally read in 
1764 and 1765, before the 
Royal Society of Agriculture at 
Lyons, of which he was then 
prefident, and afterwards be- 
fore the Royal Society of Paris 
in 1766^ For fome time they 
were handed about in manu- 
fcript, and at length, in 1768, 
found their way to the prefs. 

a 2 Mi le 

[ iv 3 

M. !e Poivre's manner is 
cafy and elegant; his obferva- 
tions ftriking and judicious ; 
his fentiments philanthropical 
and benevolent. — The genuine 
happinefs of every nation muft 
depend on agriculture, and 
agriculture muft ever be influ- 
enced by eftablifhed laws and 
modes of government : nature 
indulgently fmiles on the la- 
bour of a free-born people, but 
(brinks with horror from the 
tyrant and the flave. This is 
his fyftem, and it is the fyftem 
of truth founded on experi- 
ence, and fupported not only 


[ V ] 

by comparing cotemporary na- 
tions, but by contrafting na- 
tions with themfelves at differ- 
ent periods. 

It is neceflary the reader 
fhould keep in view the coun- 
try of the author, as many of 
his ftridures on European agri- 
culture, though unapphcable 
perhaps to Britain, convey a 
defcriptive Pidure of the ftate 
of cultivation in France. 

Originals generally fuffer by 
tranflation : this obfervation 
perhaps, with too great juftice, 


[ vi ] 

may be applied lo the prefent 
attempt As a gentleman, 
however, will be diftinguifhed 
in any garb, it is hoped M. 
le Poivre's intrinfic merit will 
procure him a polite recep- 
tion, whatever impropriety or 
inelegance may be found in 
his prefent drefs. 



Introdudion — — Page i 

J'he wejlern Coaft of Africa — 6 

"The Cape of Good Hope —- 9 

Madagafcar — — 20 

Ifle of Bourbon — — 27 

Ifle of France — — 50 

Coaji of Cor Oman del — — 0^^ 
Machine for watering rice ^ 

grounds — — 40 

Mode of labour — — 42 

Flocks of jheep^ &c. — 43 

Gardens — — 45 

The Cocoa-tree — — 46 

ne kingdom of Si am 51 

ne Malais — — 64 

Sagou — — — 74 


Power of agriculture — Origin of 
the kingdom of Ponthiamas — 90 



Camboya and Xfiampa 98 

Cochin-china — — 100 

Culture of different kinds of rice 

in Cochin-china •— 103 
Sugar-canes — — no 

China — — — 137 

Ceremony of opening the grounds 162 
Encouragements of agriculture 166 
Attention of the Chinefe govern- 
ment — — 168 
^he impojis ejiahlifhed in China 

invariable — — 170 

7he impojl called the tenth 171 

Comparifon of the agriculture of A- 
frica and Afia with that of 

China — 174 

I'he ft ate of agriculture in Europe 1 7 6 
in Africa 177 
in America 178 
in Afia 179 

TR A- 


O F A 


EVERY people, however bar- 
barous, have arts peculiar to 
themfelves. The diverfity of cli- 
mates, whilft it varies the wants of 
mankind, offers to their induftry dif- 
ferent productions on which to exer- 
cife it. Every country, at a certain 
degree of diflance, has fabrics fo An- 
gularly peculiar to itfelf, that they 
could not have been the fabrics of 
other regions : but agriculture, in 
every climate, is the univerfal art 
of mankind : from one extreme of 
the globe to the other, nations flill 
barbarous, as well as thofe whofe 
ideas are civilized, procure to them- 
A felves 

[ 2 ] 
felves, atleaft, a part of their fubfifl- 
ence by the culture of their fields ; 
yet this art, howe^^er univerfal, is 
not every where equally flourifhing. 

It never fails to profper among 
wife nations, who know how to ho- 
nour and encourage it ^—it fupports 
itfelf but feebly amongfl a people 
half polifhed, who either prefer to it 
frivolous arts, or who, being fuffici- 
ently enlightened perhaps to perceive 
its utility, are Hill too much flaves to 
the prejudices of their ancient barba- 
rity, to affranchize and confer ho- 
nours on thofe who exercife it ; — it 
languifhes, and its influence is fcarce- 
ly to be obferved amongfl: barbarians, 
who defpife it. 

The fhate of agriculture has ever 
Ueen the principal objedl of my re- 


C s 3 

fearches among the various people I 
have feen in the courfe of my voy- 
ages. It is almoft impoflible for a 
traveller, who perhaps only paiTes 
through a country, to make fuch 
remarks as are necefTary to convey a 
juft idea of the government, police,, 
and manners of the inhabitants. In 
fuch a cafe, the criterion which bell 
marks the internal flate of a nation, 
is to obferve the public markets, and 
the face of the country. If the mar- 
kets abound in provifions, if the 
fields are v/ell cultivated, and covered 
with rich crops, then in general you 
may conclude that the country is 
well peopled, that the inhabitants are 
civilized and happy, that their man- 
ners are poliflied, and their govern- 
ment agreeable to the principles of 
reafon. — You may then fay to your- 
fclf, I am amongfl Men, 

A 2 When 

[ 4 ] 

When, on the contrary, I have ar- 
rived amongfl a people, whom it was 
neceflary to fearch for amidft forefls, 
whofe negledled lands were over- 
grown with brambles ; when I have 
traverfed large trads of uncultivated 
defarts, and then at laft fhumbled on 
a grubb'd-up wretchedly cultivated 
field ; when arrived at length at fome 
canton, I have obferved nothing in 
the public market but a few forry 
roots ; I no longer hefitated to deter- 
mine the inhabitants to be wretched 
favages, or groaning under the mofl 
opprclTive flavery. 

I never remember a fmgle inflance 
of being obliged to retract this firft 
idea, conceived fimply by infpeding 
the ftate of agriculture amongfl the 
various nations I have feen : the know- 

[ 5 } 
ledge of various particulars, which 
a long refidence amongft many of 
them has enabled me to acquire, has 
ever confirmed me in opinion, that a 
country poorly cultivated is always 
inhabited by men barbarous or op- 
prefled, and that population there 
can never be confiderable. 

You will obferve by the detail I 
now offer you of my enquiries, that 
in every country agriculture de- 
pends abfolutely on the laws, the 
manners and even on the eflablifhed 
prejudices of the refpedive inhabi- 
tants. I fhall begin with obfervations 
on fome parts of Africa. 

A 3 THE 

[ 6 ] 


The iflands and weflern diftridls 
of this part of the world which I 
have feen, are for the greater part 
uncultivated lands, inhabited by un- 
happy negroes. Thefe wretched men, 
who have fo poor an eflimation of 
themfelves as to fell one another, ne- 
ver employ a thought on the cultiva- 
tion of their lands. Satisfied to exifl 
from day to day, under a climate 
where their wants are few, they culti- 
vate jufl as much as prevents their 
dying of hunger -, they carelefsly fow 
every year fome maize, a very little 
rice, and plant in fmall quantities, 
different kinds of potatoes, not of 
the nature of ours, though the cul- 
ture is much the fame; we know 


[ 7 ] 
them by the name of yams. In ge- 
neral their harveils are fo poor, that 
the Europeans, who refort to them 
for the purchafe of Haves, are obliged 
to bring from Europe or America the 
provifions neceffary for the mainte- 
nance of thofe unfortunate creatures 
doorned to compofe their cargoes. 

The negroes who inhabit the envi- 
rons of the European colonies, give 
fomewhat more attention to agricul- 
ture than the others. — They rear 
flocks ; they cultivate rice in greater 
quantities ; and in their gardens are 
found pulfe, of which the feed has 
been brought from Europe ; yet all 
they know of agriculture, they have 
learnt from the Europeans fettled 
amongft them ; their own experience 
is extremely bounded; and I have 
never been able to difcover in their 
A 4 induflry 

[ 8 ] 

induftry any procefs which could in 
the leaft improve our own. 

From the river of Angola to Cape 
Negroe, and from thence till your 
approach the Cape of Good Hope, 
nothing is to be feen but flerile un- 
cultivated lands ; the coafls are naked, 
and covered with barren fands; and 
you are under the neceflity of tra- 
velling many leagues before you can 
difcover a palm-tree, or the flightefl 
verdure. The country and its few 
inhabitants feem to be flruck with 
one common curfe. From the in- 
formations I have received touching 
thefe countries from the Italian mifTi- 
onaries, who with an admirable zeal 
have penetrated into the heart of 
thefe accurfed regions, I learn like- 
wife that agriculture is juil as Ian- 
guid in the interior parts as upon 


[ 9 J 

the coafts, although, in many places, 
the foil appeared much more fruitful 
from its natural productions. 


The countries around the Cape 
were condemned to the fame flerility 
before the Dutch took pofTefTion of 
them; but fmce their eftablifhment 
on this point of Africa, the lands 
produce in abundance wheat and 
grain of every kind, wines of differ- 
ent qualities, and a confiderable quan- 
tity of excellent fruits, coUecfted from 
every quarter of the world. There 
you fee extenfive paflures covered with 
horfes, black cattle, and fheep— thefe 
herds and flocks thrive exceedingly 
well. The abundance which this co- 
lony enjoys, compared to the barren- 
nefs of the furrounding countries, evi- 
A 5 dently 

[ lO J 

dently demonftrates that the earth de- 
nies her favours only to the tyrant and 
the Have; but becomes prodigal of 
her treafures, beyond the moft fanguine 
hope fo foon as fhe is free, and culti- 
vated by men of difcernment, whom 
wife and invariable laws protedl. 

A number of Frenchmen, forced 
from their country by the revocation 
of the edi(5t of Nantz, have on this 
coail found a new eftablilhment, and 
with it, fecurity, property, and li- 
berty, the only true encouragers of 
agriculture, the only principles of 
abundance. They have enriched this 
adopted mother by their induftry ; 
they have there founded confiderable 
tolonies, fome of which bear the 
name of that unhappy country which 
denied them the ufe of water and of 


[ II J 

fire, the remembrance of which how- 
ever they ftill fondly cherifh. 

The colony of Little Rochelle fur- 
pafTes all the reft, by the induflry of 
the colonills, and the fertility of the 
lands which belong to it. The paflures 
are there compofed of a variety of 
graifes, natives of the country, toge- 
ther with feveral different fpecies of 
herbage, which compofe our artificial 
meadows in Europe, fuch as trefoil,, 
lucerne, and faintfoin. The exotic 
plants, the feeds of which have been 
imported by the Dutch, flourifh there 
^ the natural productions of the 
country. Thofe feeds are fown by an 
operation of the plough ; they cut the 
grafs only the firfl year ; the fecond 
they open the meadows to cattle, 
which live there at difcretion, without 
any other attention than that of col- 


[ 12 ] 

leding them together every evening 
into a park inclofed with ftrong and 
high pallifadoes, to fecure them againft 
the lions and tigers, with which this 
country abounds. 

Some of thefe enclofiires are wa- 
tered only by the rains, although 
they generally endeavour to choofe 
them in the neighbourhood of fome 
brook, where they dig commodious 
watering places. In all thefe pafhu- 
rages, they have an eye to groves of 
trees, where the herds and flocks 
may find fhelter againfl the intenfe 
heat of the fun -, particularly in Janu- 
ary, February, and March, which in 
this part of the world are the mofl 
fultry months in the year. 

The arable land is here laboured 
as in Europe, fometimes by horfes, 


r 13 ] 

but oftener by oxen : the Dutch of 
this colony have by their induftry cor- 
redted the natural iluggifhnefs of thefe 
latter animals, by exercifing them 
while young in a brifk pace -, in confe- 
quence of which I have feen, at the 
Cape, carriages, drawn by teams of 
ten or a dozen yoke of oxen, go as ex- 
peditioufly as if drawn by horfes. 

The grains commonly fown at the 
Cape, are wheat, turkey corn, and 
rice; thefe generally produce an in- 
creafe of fifty-fold. They cultivate a 
variety of different kinds of pulfe, fuch 
as peafe, common beans, and French 
beans. This pulfe makes a refrefhing 
provifion to the (hips touching at the 
Cape going or returning to India. 

A particular fpecies of this pulfe is 
much in requeft in India, to which 


[ H 3 
they export a confiderable quantity : 
it is there known by the name of 
Cape Peafe : it is a kind of French 
bean which requires no prop •, its grain 
is of the form of that bean, but 
larger and flatter ; it tafles like our 
green peafe, and preferves its frefh- 
nefs for a long time. I have this 
year attempted the culture of this 
plant, which promifes fuccefs. The 
climate at the Cap'e feems to demand 
from the cultivator an attention which 
appears not fo neceflary in this coun- 
try, and which would even perhaps 
be prejudicial to the produdions of our 

The Cape however is expofed the 
greatefl part of the year to violent 
hurricanes, which blow generally 
from the north-eafl. Thefe winds 
are fo impetuous that they would 


[ 15 ] 
beat down the fruits from the trees, 
and fweep to deflrudion the labours 
of the farmer, had they not provided 
a barrier for the fecurity of the har- 
veft. The Dutch colonifts have di- 
vided their lands into fmall fields, 
which they have furrounded with 
high pall i fades of oaks and other 
trees, planted very clofe to one an- 
other, fomewhat refembling a char- 
mille, defigned for the ornament of 
a garden. Thefe paliifades they cut 
every year, as they grow ; their 
heighth being commonly from twenty- 
five to thirty feet ; every feparate 
field, in confequence, is enclofed like 
a chamber. 

It is by this induflry alone that the 
Dutch have rendered this colony not 
only the granary of all their fettle- 
ments in the Eaft-Indies, but the 


[ i6 ] 

mofl commodious place for veflels 
to touch at for refrefliments and provi- 
fions of all kinds. 

When the dutch began to form 
their vineyards, they endeavoured to 
procure plants from thofe cantons 
which enjoyed the greateft reputa- 
tion for their vines ; but after many 
fruidefs attempts to produce, at the 
extremity of Africa, the wines of 
Burgundy and Champagne, they ap- 
plied to rearing the plants tranfported 
from Spain, the Canaries, and the 
Levant, where the climate is more 
analagous to the Cape. At prefent 
the plants which are cultivated mofl 
fuccefsfully, are thofe of the Mufca- 
del kind : the red Mufcadel particu- 
larly, which they rear in a fmall dif- 
tridl called Conftance, produces mofl 
delicious wine v the Dutch Eaft-India 


[ 17 3 
Company always fecure this vintage, 
which they fend in prefents to the fo- 
vereigns of Europe. 

The wines at the Cape are cuki- 
vated without vine-props ; the me- 
thod of labour is much the fame 
with that in France. The vineyards 
are furrounded by a number of trees, 
upon which they entwine the flips of 
the great Spanifh Mufcadine, in form 
of efpaliers, very high, by which the 
vines are llieltered from the violence 
of the winds. 

The fame attention, at the Cape, 
is paid to gardening, as to the other 
branches of agriculture. You there 
find all the variety of European pulfe, 
greens, herbs, and roots, with the 
befl of thofe peculiar to other parts 
of the world. Independent of the 


[ .8 ] 

gardens of the colonifls, which arc 
kept in as fine order as any in Eu- 
rope, the India Company have caufed 
to be laid out two or three gardens, 
extenfive and magnificent, which they 
fupport with an expence worthy of 
a fovereign company. 

Fifteen or twenty European gar- 
deners, whofe abilities are approved 
before they are embarked, are em- 
ployed in the cultivation of each of 
thofe vaft gardens, under the direc- 
tion of a principal gardener, whofe 
place is lucrative and honourable. 
It is in thofe gardens, at the expence 
of the company, that all the experi- 
ments are made in every new fpecies 
^of culture ; and it is there that every 
private individual is provided, gratis, 
with fuch plants and feeds as he may 
have occafion for, together with the 


[ 19 J 
neceffary inftruclions for their culti- 
vation. Thefe gardens furnifh, in 
the greatefl abundance, herbage and 
fruits of various kinds to the compa- 
ny's fhips. 

Travellers cannot but with plea- 
lure and admiration obferve large en- 
clofures confecrated to the fludy and 
improvement of botany, in which 
the mofl rare and ufeful plants, from 
every quarter of the world, are ar- 
ranged in the m.oil excellent order : 
the curious have the additional fatif- 
fadion alfo of finding fkilful garden- 
ers, who take pleafure in defcribing 
and pointing out their virtues. 

Thofe beautiful gardens are termi- 
nated by large orchards, where are 
to be found all the fruits of Europe, 
together with feveral natives of 


[ 20 ] 

Africa and Afia. Nothing is more 
agreeable than to fee in different ex- 
pofitions, even in me fame enclofure, 
the chefnut, the apple, and other 
trees, from the moft northern cli- 
mates, together with the mufcadine 
of the Indies, the camphres of Borneo, 
the palms, and a variety of other 
trees, which are natives of the torrid 


After doubling the Cape of Good 
Hope, you enter the Indian fea, where 
you find the great ifland of Mada- 
gafcar : we are ftill unacquainted 
with many places of this ifland, 
though the Portuguefe, Dutch, 
French, and other Europeans have 
had fettlements, and frequented it 
above two centuries. Thofe parts, 


[ 21 ] 

which we know, are very fertile, and 
the inhabitants would, in all probabi- 
lity, cultivate them extremely well, 
were there a vent for their produc- 
tions. They rear numerous herds of 
cattle and Iheep ; their pafturages, 
fuch as nature has formed them, are 
rich : in many cantons are large trafts 
of tilled ground, covered with grafs 
of an extraordinary fize, which grows 
to the height of five or fix feet ^ the 
natives call it Fatak ; it is excellent 
for nourilliing and fattening their 
horned cattle, which are of the largeft 
fpecies, and differ in fhape from ours, 
particularly by a large flefhy protu- 
berance on their neck. — Another 
grafs, of a finer blade, (hoots fpon- 
taneoufly through the fands on the fea 
^oafl, which furnifhes food for the 
fheep : thefe are of the fame fpecies 
with thofe of Barbary, and differ 


[ 22 ] 

from ours mod remarkably, by the 
monftrous fize of their tails, which 
weigh in general from fix to eight 

The Madecafles or Malegaches 
(which is the name of the inhabi- 
tants of this ifland.) cultivate fcarce 
any other grain but rice : they fow 
at the commencement of the rainy 
feafon ; in confequence of which they 
are not under the neceflity of wa- 
tering their fields. In labouring their 
ground, they ufe no other inftrument 
but the pick -axe ; they begin by 
grubbing up all the weeds ; then five 
or fix men, ranging themfelves in a 
line on the field, dig little holes as 
they pafs along, into which the wo- 
men or children, who follow, throw 
the grains of the rice, and then with 
their feet cover them with earth : a 


[ 23 ] 
field fown in this manner, produces 
an increafe of above eighty or a hun- 
dred-fold, which proves rather the 
extreme fertility of the foil, than the 
goodnefs of the cultivation : badly 
underflood as it may be, however, 
the inhabitants of Madegafcar live in 
abundance. In no country in the 
world, that I have feen, are rice and 
other eflential provifions cheaper than 
in this ifland. For a remnant of 
coarfe blue cloth, which may be 
worth perhaps twenty pence, the 
Madecafle gives two or three mea- 
fures of rice. Thefe meafures are 
furniflied by the Europeans, who 
never fail to enlarge them every year ; 
yet the iflanders do not complain. 
The meafure is firft of all heaped ; the 
buyer then, in virtue of an eftablifhed 
right for fecuring good meafure, 
thrulls his arm to the elbow in the 


[ 24 ] 
rice, and with one fweep empties it 
almoft entirely, which the Madecafle 
has the patience a fecond time to re- 
plenifh, without a murmur. This 
meafure is called a Gamelle^ which, 
thus filled, will hold about i6o 
pounds of pure rice. 

There cannot be a doubt, but if 
our [ the French ] India Company, 
who alone are in pofTefTion of the 
trade with the natives of this ifland, 
would give proper encouragement to 
agriculture, it would in a fhort time 
make a rapid progrefs. — Our iilands 
of Bourbon and France would here 
always find a certain refource againfl 
thofe dearths which too frequently 
diflrefs the latter of thefe iflands. 
Our fquadrons bound for India, who 
put into the lile of France for refrefh- 
ments, would there always find abun- 

[ 25 ] 
dance of provifions brought from 
Madagafcar, and of confequence 
woHJd not be fubjeded to the necefli- 
ty of k>fing their time at the Cape, or 
at Batavia, begging refrefhments from 
the Dutch, whilft the enemies of 
France, as happened in the late war, 
are conquering their fettlements, and 
deftroying their trade * 

Wheat would grow in Madagafcar 
in the fame abundance as rice : it 
was formerly cultivated fuccefsfully 
in the fettlement which we then pof- 
fefled at the fouthern point of the 
ifland, called Fort Dauphin. Even 
at this day fine flalks of wheat are 
ft ill to be found there, produced 
B from 

* Perhaps it may be owing to fome hint here 
given, that the French (as is reported) are now 
again endeavouring to eftablifh fettlements o» 
the ifland of Madagafcar. 

[ 26 ] 

from the Icattered grains of the an- 
cient crops, which being blown about 
by the winds, have annually, fmce 
our being drove from that fettle- 
ment, fown of themfeh-es, and fprung 
up at random, amorgft the native 
herbs of the country. The lands 
there are of inconceivable fertility ; 
the iflanders intelligent and ingeni- 
ous. In thofe diilrids where the 
Arabs have not penetrated, the fim- 
ple laws of nature are their guides; 
their manners the manners of the 
primitive ages. Thefe laws, and 
thefe manners, are more favourable 
for agriculture, than all our fublime 
Speculations, than all our moft ap- 
plauded theories on the mofl appro- 
e*^/^)|ipd; pradice ; than all thofe inefFec- 
'f,^{i-tual means now employed to re-ani- 
mate an art, which cur manners 
teach us to regard with contempt, 


[ 27 ] 
or treat with levity ; and which is 
perpetually haraffed, perpetually op- 
preffed by innumerable abufes, which 
derive their fource from the very laws 


Almofl 200 leagues eafl of Mada- 
gafcar lie the two iflands of Bour- 
bon and France ; the foil of which is 
naturally as fertile as that of Mada- 
gafcar, whilft: they enjoy a happier 
climate. Bourbon has no port : it is 
of confequence little frequented by 
the rtiipping. The inhabitants have 
preferved their fimplicity of manners, 
and agriculture is there in a flourifh- 
ing flate. The ifland produces 
wheat, rice, and maize, not only 
for its own confumpt, but even fur- 
nifhes a fmall fupply to the Ifle of 
B 2 France : 

[ 28 ] 

France : the culture there is the fame 
as at Madagafcar. The horned cat- 
tle and fheep, which they have im- 
ported from that iiland, thrive here 
extremely well, efpecially as they have 
alfo introduced the grafs called Fatak^ 
which, as I have before obferved, 
makes excellent pailurage. 

The lands of this iiland are prin- 
cipally employed in the culture of the 
coffee-tree. The firfl plants of this 
fhrubby tree were brought from 
Mocha. It multiplies by its grains, 
fowing fpontaneoufly ; little attention 
i§} required ; nothing more is necef- 
fary than to grub up, three or four 
times during the firft year, the neigh- 
bouring v/eeds, which would other- 
wife rob it of its proper nourilhment : 
the fecond year it grov/s without 
care j its branches which extend 


[ 29 ] 
horizontally along the furface of the 
ground, by tlieir fhade flifle the 
growth of all fuch weeds, as might 
fhoot up within their circumference : 
at the end of eighteen months the 
coffee-tree begins to bear fruit, and 
in three years yields a plentiful crop. 
They plant thefe trees chequer-wife, 
at about the diftance of feven feet 
from one another, and, when they 
grow too tall, prune them to the 
height of perhaps two feet from the 

The cofiee-tree demands a light 
foil : it thrives better in fand almoft 
pure, than in rich ground : they ob- 
ferve in the ille of Bourbon, that 
thefe trees yield annually, one with 
another about a pound of coffee : 
this fruit comes to perfedion, and 
is gathered-in during dry weather, 
B ^ which 

[ 50 ] 

which gives it a great advantage over 
the Wefl India coffee, which never 
ripens nor is got-in but in the rainy 
feafons. The coffee, after it is ga- 
thered-in, mufl be dried ; for feveral 
days, therefore, it is expofed to the 
fun, till the bean becomes extremely 
dry ; they then clear it of tlie pulp, 
which is 4pne by peliles ia large 
wooden troughs. 


This ifland poffeffes two excellent 
harbours, where all the fhipping of 
the French Company, employed in 
the commerce of China and the In- 
dies, touch for refrefhments ; here 
alfo rendezvous their armaments in 
times of war: this illand is, ofconfe- 
quence, not fo folitary as Bourbon. 
The politics and manners of Europe 


[ 31 ] 
have here more influence. The lands 
are as fertile ss thofe of Bourbon; 
rivulets, which are never dry, water 
it like a garden : rotwithflanding 
which tlie haivefls often fail, and 
fcarcity is here almoft perpetually 

Since the days of the celebrated 
M. de la Bourdonnois (who govern- 
ed this illand for ten or twelve years, 
and ought to be regarded as the 
founder of the colony, for his intro- 
dudion and patronage, of agriculture) 
they have wandered incelTantly from 
projedl to projedl^ attempting the 
culture of almofl every, fpecies of 
plants, without properly profecuting 
any one of them. The coffee, the 
cotton, the indigo, the fugar-cane, 
the pear, the cinnamon, the mul- 
berry, the tea, and the cocoa trees, 
B 4 have 

[ 32 3 

have all been cultivated by experi- 
ments, but in fuch a fuperficial man- 
ner as could never fecure fuccefs . Had 
they followed the fimple plan of the 
founder which was to fecure bread, 
the ifland would at this day have 
been flourifhing ; abundance would 
then have reigned amorgft the coio- 
nifts, and the fhipping never been 
difappointed of the neceffary refreih- 
ments and provifions. 

The cultivation of grain, never- 
thelefs, though negleded and bad- 
ly underflood, is that which fuc- 
ceeds the bed. Thofe lands, which 
are fo employed, yield annually 
a crop of wheat, and another of 
rice or Turkey corn, without the 
intervention of one fallow year, and 
without the lead improvement, or 


[ 33 3 
any other mode of labour, than that 
which is pradifed at Madagafcar. 

The Maniac was firfl introduced 
into this ifland by M. de la Bour- 
donnois : the culture of this plant 
was at firfl attended with very great 
difficulty, but is now the principal 
refource of the coloniils for the nou- 
rifhment of their flaves. As the cul- 
ture of this root is here the fame as 
in America, I fhall not repeat what, 
has been related by a number of tra- 

They formerly brought from Ma- 
dagafcar black catde and flieep ; but 
fmce they have difcovered that more 
advantage attends the tranfportation 
of flaves, they have negleded the 
increafe of their cattle, which the 
continual demands of the Ihipping, 
B 5 and 

[ 34 ] 
and the wants of the inhabitants at 
the fame time, daily diminifh : be- 
fides, they have never hitherto form- 
ed any paftures; fuch as they have 
attempted having been laid out with 
fo little Ikill, that they have not fuc- 
ceeded. The iiland produces natu- 
rally, in different cantons, an excel- 
lent kind of grafs, which grows to 
the heighth of five or fix feet. This 
grafs begins to appear above ground 
about the beginning of the rainy fea- 
fon ; it performs all its vegetation 
during the three months, which this 
feafon lafls : the inhabitants take ad- 
vantage of this to paflure their herds, 
who fatten upon it amazingly ; but, 
the vegetation over, there remains 
nothing on the ground but a flraw 
too hard to afford nourifhment to 
the cattle ; and, foon after, the fire, 
which is kindled here by a thoufand 


[ 35 ] 
accidents, confumes this flraw, and 
with it frequently part of the neigh- 
bouring forefts. During the reniain- 
der of the year, the herds wander 
about and languifh amongft the 

The greateft fault which has been 
committed in this ifland, and which 
has proved mod prejudicial to cuhi- 
vation, is the method of clearing the 
woods from off the grounds by fire, 
without leaving groves and thickets 
at proper diilances. The rains, in 
this ifland, conduce mofl to the ame- 
lioration of the grounds ; but the 
clouds being flopt by the forefls, 
there the rains fall ; whilft the cleared 
lands are fcarce watered by a fingle 
drop : the fields, at the fame time, be- 
ing thus deprived of defence, are ex- 
pofed to the violence of the winds, 


[ 36 J 
which often entirely deftroy the har- 
vefls. — The Dutch, as we have before 
obferved, found no trees at the Cape ; 
but they have planted them there, 
as fhelter for their habitations. The 
Ifle of France, on the contrary, was 
covered with woods, and the colo- 
nifts have entirely dellroyed them. 


Agriculture has ever flourifhed in 
the Eafl-Indies ; it has, however, de- 
generated fince the conqueil of this 
country by the Moguls ; who, like 
all barbarous nations, have defpifed 
that induiby which nourifhes man- 
kind, to attach themfelves to that 
deflrudive art which defolates the 


[ 37 ] 
The conquerors, when they took 
polTeflion of the country, appropri- 
ated to themfelves at the fame time 
all the lands. The Mogul emperors 
divided them into great moveable 
fiefs, which they diftributed amongfl 
their grandees ; thefe farm^ed them 
out to their valTals ; and thofe again 
to others ; fo that the lands are now 
no longer cultivated but by the fer- 
vants and day-labourers of the fub- 

As no country in the world is 
more expofed to revolution than the 
Indies, fubjeded to maflers whofe 
governm.ent is an abfolute anarchy, 
the pofiefTor of the fief, as well as 
the farmer, for ever uncertain of their 
fate endeavour to m.ake the mofl of 
the lands and their cultivators, with- 
out ever beflowing a thought on im- 

[ 38 J 
provement. Fortunately for thefe 
Barbarian conquerors, the conquered 
natives, inviolably attached to their 
ancient manners, apply themfelves 
incelTantly to agriculture, from in- 
clination, and from religion. Not- 
withftanding the frantic defpotifm of 
the Mogul government, the Mala- 
bar *, defpifmg and pitying the maf- 
ter whom he obeys, cultivates, with 
the fame ardor as if he was proprie- 
tor, the fields of his anceflors, the 
care of which is confided to him by 
the ufurper. 

The labourers are a tribe much 
honoured among the Indians. Reli- 
gion has confecrated agriculture, even 


* The French give the name of Malabar, not 
only to the ancient inhabitants of the Malabar 
coaft, but in general to the Aborigines of the 
great Peninfula of Indoftan. 

[ i9 ] 
to the animals deftined for the labour 
of the ground. As the Indies in 
general are deficient in paftures, as 
horfes are fcarce, a^ buffaloes and 
other cattle for the draught multiply 
but flowly, the ancient Indian policy 
made it a crime againfl their religion 

to kill thefe ufeful animals. The 

Malabars make them more fervice- 
able than any other people : they 
employ them, as we do, in labouring 
the ground ; as alfo in drawing 
their carriages, and in carrying every 
kind of load : there are no other 
beafts of burden in the neighbour- 
hood of Pondi cherry. I am convin- 
ced that in every country they might 
be rendered equally ufeful. 

The foil on the Coromandel coaft 
is light, dry, and fandy ; the induf- 
try and labour, however, of the na- 

[ 40 ] 

tives make it produce two crops 
every year, without the neceflity of 
one fallow feafon. After the rice 
harvefl is over,'* there is always a 
crop of fome fmaller grains, fuch as 
millet, and a fpecies of French beans, 
of which India produces a variety of 
different kinds. 

The mofl remarkable procefs of In- 
dian hufbandry^ is the v/atering their 
grounds for the culture of rice. 


If the grounds they propofe wa- 
tering, have neither rivulet nor foun- 
tain fufficiently abundant, they dig 
a pit-well, on the brink of which 
they raife a pillar of near the fame 
height as the depth of the well. At 


[ 41 ] 

the fummit of this pillar, which Is 
forked, is an iron bar, which crof- 
fnig both divifions horizontally, fiip- 
ports a kind of fee-faw, to one end 
of which a ladder is fufpended ; the 
other end of this fee-faw projeds 
from the top of tlie pillar about three 
feet, having a long pole faflened to 
it in a pofition parallel with the pil- 
lar, at which hangs a large bucket 
of wood or copper : by the fide of 
this machine is a large refer voir, built 
with bricks and clofely cemented, 
elevated above the level of the 
grounds they propofe to water; the 
opening whence the waters are dif- 
charged being on that fide which 
fronts the field. Every thing being 
thus difpofed, a man afcends to the 
top of the column, by the ladder 
fixed to the fee-faw : as foon as he 
has reached the top, another man, 


[ 4a ] 
ftationed by the fide of the refervoir, 
plunges the bucket, which is fufpend- 
ed by the pole, into the well ; upon 
which he at the top defcends the 
ladder, and bringing thereby the 
bucket full of water to a level with 
the refervoir, the other there empties 
it. As foon as the refervoir is full, 
they open a kind of fiuice ^ the inun- 
dation begins, and is kept conftantly 
flowing by the operations of thefe 
two men, who fometinies are thus 
eniployed whole days, the one afcend- 
ing and defcending, the other throw- 
ing the bucket into the well, and 
emptying it when full 


The Malabars labour their grounds 
with inftruments refembling the Aire 
and the Souchee, in ufe in the fouth 


[ 43 ] 
of France. They employ oxen, but 
more commonly buffaloes; thefe lail 
being flronger, and more capable of 
enduring the heat, than the oxen, 
which on the coafl of Coromandel, 
are generally weakly, and of a fmall 


Thefe animals are generally fed 
with the flraw of rice, fome herbs, 
and boiled beans. Here and there 
in the fields you fee fome fmall flocks 
of goats, and others of fheep, which 
differ from ours by their being co- 
vered with hair inflead of wool. 
They are known in the French colo- 
nies by the name of Chiens marous. 
Thefe flocks, however, are lean, and 
multiply but flowly. 


[ 44 ] 

Were the inhabitants of India to 
eat the flefh of animals, Hke the Eu- 
ropeans, their cattle would very foon 
be deflroyed. It appears, therefore,- 
that the religious law rendering it 
criminal for an Indian to eat the 
flelh of animals, has been didtated 
by the wifdom of found policy, 
which has employed the authority of 
religion to fecure obedience to a re- 
gulation which the nature of the cli- 
mate required. 

The principal food of the Malabars 
is grain, butter, pulfe, and fruits. 
They eat nothing which has ever 
enjoyed life. The countries to the 
fouth and weft of Indoftan, are the 
granaries of this vaft continent, and 
maintain the inliabitants in abun- 
dance. Thefe countries ftill remain 


[ 45 ] 

in the polTellion of the Aborigines of 
the country, whofe lav/s are extreme- 
ly favourable for agriculture. The 
Moguls have endeavoured often to 
make them/elves mailers of thefe 
countries, but hitherto in vain. 


In the Malabar gardens there is no 
kind of pulfe equal to ours. Exclu- 
five of the various kinds of French- 
bean, fome of which are of the arbo- 
refcent kind ; the befl they cultivate 
is the Bazdla^ known in France by 
the name of the Spinage of China -^ 
this is a lively, clambering plant, 
which, while growing, they fupport 
upon flicks, like our peafe, or prop 
up againfl the walls, which it very 
foon covers with a moil agreeable 


r 46 ] 

verdure ; its tafle is almofl the fame 
with our fpinage. 

Gardening is but little known on 
the Coromandel coafl. The orchards 
are better fupplied than the gardens ; 
yet they have no fruits that can be 
compared to thofe of Europe. They 
do not underfland the art of engraft- 
ing. Their mofl common fruits are 
the pine-apple, the mango, the bo- 
nana, and the gouyave. The two 
firft of thefe fruits are but indiffe- 
rent on the Coromandel coafl, though 
excellent on the Malabar coalt, and 
feveral other parts of India. 

THE coco A-T REE. 

The mod ufeful of all the trees in 
their orchards is undoubtedly the co- 
coa-tree. This tree bears cluflers of 



[ 47 ] 
nuts of an immenfe fize. When 
thefe nuts are ripe, they yield a fpe- 
cies of oil in great abundance, which 
the Indians ufe for various purpofes, 
particularly in feafoning their garden 
fluff; the tafte of this oil, however, 
is extremely difagreeable to thofe 
who are not accuilomed to eat it. 
But the method of rendering the cul- 
ture of this tree moft advantageous, 
is the extrading v/ine from its fruit. 
The Indian watches the time when 
the nuts of the cocoa-tree have at- 
tained to the fize of our ordinary 
nuts, which happens foon after the 
fall of the flower : he then makes an 
incifion in the ftalk of the clufter 
about feven or eight inches from the 
trunk of the tree ; here he faflens an 
earthen vefTel to receive the juice, 
which iffues in great abundance : the 
mouth of the veflel he carefully 


[ 48 ] 
wraps round with a cloth, to 'pre- 
vent the admiilion of the air, which 
would foon turn it to the fret. The 
velTel fills in twenty-four hours : the 
Indian takes care to change it every 
'day. This natural wine which is 
called Sotiry^ is fold and drunk in 
this flate. It has much of the tafle 
and flrength of the Mnji^ or new 
v/ine of the grape: it keeps, how- 
ever, but a few days j it is neceifary 
then to diflil it, otherwife it would 
four, and become entirely ufelefs. 
This fpecies of ., wine, when diftilled, 
is the well-known liquor called Ar- 

A cocoa-tree, thus managed, is 
worth a pagoda (about eight fhil- 
lings) per annum. Thefe trees are 
planted about twenty-five or thirty 
feet diflant from each other. They 


[ 49 ] 

produce nothing for ten or twelve 
years, but then annually bear fruit for 
above fifty years. They flourifh befl 
in a mixed fandy foil ; and fucceed 
extremely well even in pure fand. 

The Malabars cultivate, in the open 
fields, a variety of plants, whofe pro- 
ductions are of an oily fubflance ; 
fuch as the Sefame or Gergelin^ which 
is a kind of fox-grafs, and the Ricin 
or Palma Chrifti. The frefn oil ex- 
tracted from this plant, which is 
knov/n in Europe for a violent and 
dangerous cauflic, cannot have the 
fame hurtful quality in the Indies, as 
the Malabars confider it as a gentle 
purgative, and the befl remedy for 
almofl all the difeafes incident to in- 
fants at the breafl ; giving them ufu- 
ally, every month, a fpoonful of it, 
G mixed 

[ so ] 
mixed in an equal quantity of their 
mother's milk. 

I fhall conclude this article by ob- 
ferving, that the reader muft not 
form an idea of agriculture over the 
Indies in general, from the Iketch I 
have given of that on the Coroman- 
del coafl : this coaft, and the coun- 
tries adjacent, form but a fmall part 
of the Eafl-Indies, properly fo called : 
they are, at the fame time, the moft 
barren, and have fufFered mofl from 
the devaflations of the Moguls, from 
the deflrudlive government of thefe 
conquerors, and from the continual 
wars which harrafs and depopulate 
the country. The coafls of Orixa, 
Malabar, the territory of Surat, the 
banks of the Ganges, and the inte- 
rior parts of Indoflan, are much 
more fertile, and in many of thefe 


[ 51 ] 
countries agriculture flourilhes fur- 
prifmgly. — I relate nothing but facfls, 
which I had opportunities of obferv- 
ing myfelf 


The kingdom of Siam, fituate on 
the peninfula of the Indies beyond the 
Ganges, is in general extremely fer- 
tile. Divided, like Indoftan, by a 
chain of mountains from north to 
fouth, it enjoys, all the year round, 
and at the fame time, two very oppo- 
fite feafons. The wellern divifion, all 
along the bay of Bengal, is deluged 
by continual rains, during the fix 
months that the monfoons continue 
to blow from the wefl. This feafon 
is confidered as their winter on this 
coaft ; whilfb in the other divifion of 
the kingdom, towards the eall, they 

c 2 ^^py 

[ 52 ] 
enjoy the fineft climate, and never 
experience that difference of feafon, 
which reigns on the weflern fide, 
except by the overflowing of the Me- 
nam. This noble river runs along 
a great way among mountains, where 
the rains concenter : it wafhes the 
walls of the capital, and annually 
ovei flows, without the leaft ravage, 
a delightful country, covered all over 
with rice plantations. The flime, 
which the Menam leaves behind, en- 
riches the foil prodigioufly ; the rice 
feems to grow up in proportion as 
the inundation rifes, and the river 
at length gently retires by degrees 
into its bed, as the rice approaches 
to maturity, and has no further oc- 
cafion for its waters. How bounti- 
ful has nature been to thofe who 
inhabit this charming country ! — flie 
has, hov/ever, done more : tlie fields 


[ Si ] 
produce, in profufion, an infinite va- 
riety of mofl delicate fruits, which 
require almofl no cultivation i fuch 
as the pine-apple, the mangouflas, 
(the mofl delicate fruit perhaps in 
the world) mangoes of different 
kinds, and all excellent, feveral fpe- 
cies of oranges, the banana, the du- 
cion, the gacca, with other fruits of 
an inferior quality. Nature, flill 
more bountiful, has alfo fcattered 
over this country, almofl on the fur- 
face of the ground, mines of gold, 
copper, and a fpecies of fine tin, 
which there, as in other parts of In- 
dia, they name Calin. 

In this terreflrial paradife, fur- 
rounded with fo much riches, who 
would imagine that the Siamefe are, 
perhaps, the moil v/rethed people 
in the world ? 

C 3 The 

: t 54 ] 

The government of Siam is defpo- 
tic : the fovereign alone enjoys that 
liberty which is natural to all man- 
kind : his fubjeds are all his flaves ; 
every one of them is annually taxed 
at fix months perfonal fervice with- 
out wages, and even without food : 
he allows them the other fix months 
to procure themfelves wherewithal 
to exift the year. Under fuch a go- 
vernment, there is no law that can 
afford protection to individuals againft 
violence, or in the fmalleft degree 
fecure them in their property. Eve- 
ry thing is fubjeded to the caprice of 
a prince, rendered brutal by every 
fpecies of excefs, particularly that of 
power ; who paiTes his days locked 
up in his fer^iglio, without an idea of 
any diing beyond the wails of his 
palace ; and particularly ignorant of 


[ 55 3 , 
the wretched condition of his fub- 
jeds. Thefe are expofed to the ava- 
rice of the grandees, v/ho themfelves 
are only the chief ilaves, and trem- 
blingly approach, on appointed days, 
the prefence of their tyrant, whom 
they adore like a divinity, though 
fubjed to the mofl dangerous ca- 

Religion alone has preferved the 
power of protecting againfh tyranny 
thofe who, ranging themfelves under 
its ftandard, are admitted into the 
order of the priefts of Somonacon- 
dom^ the deity of the Siamefe. Thofe 
who embrace this order, and their 
number is confiderable, are by law 
obliged to obferve the flridefl celi- 
bacy, which, in a warm climate, fuch 
as that of Siam, whilit it occafions 
C 4 great 

[ 56 i 
great dlforders, almofl depopulates 
the country. 

It may eafily be conceived, that 
under fuch a government agriculture 
cannot flourifh ; it may be faid, even, 
that no regard is paid to it at all, 
when the fmall portion of ground 
which is laboured, is compared to 
the immenfe extent of lands which 
are totally negledled. 

With regard even to thofe grounds 
which they have laid out, nature 
may be faid to do every thing. Men 
opprefTed, debafed, without fpirit, 
nay, in a manner without hands, 
give themfelves fcarce any other 
trouble than jufl to reap what the 
earth produces ; and, as the country 
is extenfive, and thinly peopled, they 


[ 57 ] 
enjoy abundance of necefTaries, almofl 
without labour. 

From the port of Mergin, fituated 
on the wefbern coall of this kingdom, 
to the capital, during a journey of 
ten or twelve days, you crofs im- 
menfe plains, charmingly watered, 
and the foil excellent : fome of which 
appear to have been formerly tilled, 
but now lie quite uncultivated. This 
journey travellers are under the ne- 
cedity of making in caravans, in or- 
der to defend themfelves from the 
tygers and the elephants, to which 
this fine country is in a manner en- 
tirely abandoned, during a journey of 
eight days there fcarce being the vef- 
tige of a habitation. 

The environs of tlie capital are cul- 
tivated ; the lands belonging to the 
C 5 king^ 

[ 58 ] 

king, thofe of the princes, the minif- 
ters, and principal officers difplay the 
amazing fertility of the country, pro- 
ducing, as I have been afTured, an in- 
creafe of two hundred-fold. 

The Siamefe method of cultivating 
their rice, is firft to fow it very 
thick in a fmall fquare plot of ground, 
well watered, a little below the fur- 
face of the earth. As foon as the 
plants have grown about five or fix 
inches high, they pull them up by 
the roots, and tranfplant them in 
fmall parcels of three or four ftalks, 
diflant from each other about four 
inches every way. Thefe plants are 
placed deep in a clay foil, which has 
been previoufly well laboured with a 
plow, drawn by two buffaloes. The 
rice, tranfplanted in this manner, has 
beyond comparifon a much greater 


[ 59 ] . 
increafe, than if allowed to grow up 
in the fame ground where it was ori- 
ginally planted. 

It is the Chinefe, and the Cochin- 
chinefe, fettled in the capital and its 
neighbourhood, who contribute mofl 
to the improvement of the grounds. 
Thefe flrangers are ufeful to the fo- 
vereign, by the commerce they carry 
on with him, and it is the intereft of 
the government to protedt them from 

In the neighbourhood of the un- 
cultivated lands I have mentioned, 
you find others, belonging to diffe- 
rent individuals, who, difcouraged 
by continual opprefiions, have quite 
abandoned them. It is aftonifhing, 
however, to obferve thefe lands, 
frequently neither laboured nor fown 


[ 6o ] 

for years together, produce extraor- 
dinary crops of rice. The grain, 
reaped negligently, fows of itfelf, and 
re-produces annually another harvefl, 
by the help of the inundations of the 
river Menam ; which proves, at the 
fame time, the extreme fertility of 
the ground, and the extreme mifery 
of the inhabitants. 

The orchards of the prince, and 
the great Talapoins *, are admirable 
for the variety of their fruits, all of 
the mofl exquifite kind ; but thefe 
delicacies no private individual is al- 
lowed to enjoy. When a man is fo 
unhappy as to have in his grounds a 
tree of excellent fruit, fuch as the 
mangouftas, a party of foldiers never 
fail to come every year, to fecure, for 


* A religious order. 

[ 6i ] 

the king, or fome great miniHer, the 
produce of this tree. They take an 
account of every mangoufla, good or 
bad, making the proprietor guardi- 
an and fecurity for the whole ; and, 
when the fruits ripen, fhould there 
happen the fmalleft deficiency, the 
poor proprietor is fubjed:ed to all the 
infolence of unrefhrained power ; it 
becomes, of confequence, a real mif- 
fortune for a private man to be pof- 
fe fifed of fuch a tree. 

The Siamefe rear herds of buffa- 
loes, and horned cattle ; but all the 
care, they take of them is, to conducft 
them, in the day time, to the fallow 
grounds, which abound in paftures, 
and re-condudt them, in the evening, 
to the inclofures, in order to fecure 
them from the tygers, of which there 
are great numbers in this country. 


[ 62 ] 

The milk, and a very little labour, is 
all the advantage they draw from 
them. Their religion, which is the 
fame that prevails in Indoflan, and 
which the Talapoins alone know any 
thing about, forbids them killing 
thefe animals. They elude, however, 
this law, by felling them to the Ma- 
hometans fettled among them, who 
kill them, and fell their flefh privately. 
They have alfo great numbers of 
poultry, particularly ducks, of the 
beft kinds in the Indies. 

The king maintains a number of 
tame elephants. Each of thefe mon- 
flrous animals has tv/elve or fifteen 
men daily employed in cutting- 
herbs, bananiers, (a kind of large 
rofe) and fiigar-canes. They are after 
all. of no real ufe ; they ferve only 
for fhew. They difplay, fay the Si- 


[ 63 ] 

amefe, the grandeur of their prince ; 
and he conceives an idea of his great- 
nefs, more from the number of his 
elephants, than from the number of 
his fubjedls. 

Thefe animals, wherever they 
come, make moft deftrudive ha- 
vock ; of this their keepers take ad- 
vantage, making every individual, 
who is pofiefTed of cultivated lands, 
or gardens, pay annually a certain 
tribute : fhould they refufe, the ele- 
phants would immediately be let 
loofe, and ravage and ruin defolate 
their fields : for what fubjedl would 
be hardy enough to dare to fail in 
refpedt to the elephants of the king 
of Siam, many of which, to the dif- 
grace of humanity, are loaded with a 
profufion of titles, and preferred to 
the firil dignities in the kingdom. 


[ 64 ] 

Beyond the kingdom of Si am is 
the peninfula of Malacca ; a country 
formerly well peopled, and, confe- 
quently, well cultivated. This na- 
tion was once one of the greatefl 
powers, and made a very confidera- 
ble figure on the theatre of Afia. The 
Tea was covered with their fhips, and 
they carried on a mofb extenfive com- 
merce. Their laws, however, were 
apparently very different from thofe 
which fubfift among them at prefent. 
From time to time they fent out 
numbers of colonies, which, one af- 
ter another, peopled the illands of 
Sumatra, Java, Eorneo, the Celebes 
or MacaiTor, the Moluccas, the Phi- 
lippines, and thofe innumerable in- 
lands of the Archipelago, which 
bound Afia on the eaft, and which oc- 

[ 65 ] 

cupy an extent of feven hundred 
leagues in longitude, from eafh to 
weft, by about fix hundred of lati- 
tude, from north to fouth. The in- 
habitants of all thefe iflands, thofe at 
leaft upon the coafts, are the fame 
people ; they fpeak almoft the fame 
language, have the fame laws, the 
fame manners. — Is it not fomewhat 
fingular, that this nation, whofe pof- 
feflions are fo extenfive, fhould fcarce 
be known in Europe ? — I (hall endea- 
vour to give you an idea of thofe 
laws, and thofe manners ; you will, 
from thence, eafily judge of their 

Travellers, who make obfervations 
on the Malais, are aftonifhed to find, 
in the center of Afia, under the 
fcorching climate of the line, the 
laws, the manners, the cuftoms, and 


[ 66 ] 

the prejudices of the ancient inhabi- 
tants of the north of Europe. The 
Malais are governed by feudal laws, 
that capricious fyllem, conceived for 
the defence of the liberty of a few, 
againft the tyranny of one, whilfh 
the multitude is fubjedted to flavery 
and opprelTion. 

A chief, who has the title of king, 
or fultan, iflues his commands to his 
great vaflals, who obey when they 
think proper. Thefe have inferior 
vafTals, who often act in the fame 
manner with regard to them. A 
fmall part of the nation live inde- 
pendent, under the title of Oramfai\ 
or nobie^ and fell their fervices to 
thofe who pay them beft -, whilft the 
body of the nation is compofed of 
flaves, and live in perpetual fervi- 


[ 67 ] 

With thefe laws the Malals are 
refllefs, fond of navigation, war, 
plunder, enaigrations, colonies, def- 
perate enterprizes, adventures, and 
gallantry. They talk inceffantly of 
their honour, and their bravery, 
whilfl they are univerfally confider- 
ed, by thofe with whom they have 
intercoufe, as the mofl treacherous, 
ferocious people on the face of the 
globe; and yet, which appeared to 
me extremely fingular, they fpeak the 
foftefl language of Afia. That which 
the Count de Forbin has faid, in his 
memoirs, of the ferocity of the Ma- 
cafTars, is exadly true, and is the 
reigning charadlerillic of the whole 
Malay nations. More attached to the 
abfurd laws of their pretended ho- 
nour, than to thofe of juflice or hu- 
manity, you always obferve, that 


r 68 ] 

amongft them, the flrong oppreis 
and deftroy the weak : their treaties 
of peace and friendfhip never fubfifl- 
ing beyond that felf-interefl which 
induced them to make them, they 
are almoft always armed, and either 
at war amongft themfelves, or em- 
ployed in pillaging their neighbours. 

This ferocity, which the Malais 
qualify under the name of courage, 
is fo well known to the European 
companies, who have fettlements in 
the Indies, that they have univerfally 
agreed in prohibiting the captains of 
their fhips, who may put into the 
Malay iflands, from taking on board 
any feamen of that nation, except in 
the greatefl diftrefs, and then, on no 
account, to exceed two or three. 


[ ^9 ] 

It is nothing uncommon for a 
handful of thefe horrid favages fud- 
denly to embark, attack a vefTel by 
furprize, poignard in hand, maffacre 
the people, and make themfelves maf- 
ters of her. Malay batteaus, with 
twenty-five or thirty men, have been 
known to board ^European (hips of 
thirty or forty guns, in order to 
take polTelTion of them, and mur- 
der with their poignards great part 
of the crew. The Malay hiftory is 
full of fuch enterprizes, which mark 
the defperate ferocity of thefe barba- 

The Malais, who are not flaves, 
go always armed : they would think 
themfelves difgraced, if they went 
abroad without their poignards which 
they call Crit, The induflry of 


[ 7° ] 

this nation even furpafles itfelf, in 
the fabrick of this deflrudive wea- 

As their lives are a perpetual round 
of agitation and tumult, they could 
never endure the long flowing habits, 
which prevail amongfl the other Afia- 
tics. The habits of the Malais are 
exadlly adapted to their fhapes, and 
loaded with a multitude of buttons, 
which faften them clofe to their bo- 
dies in every part. — I relate, thefe 
feemingly trifling obfervations, in or- 
der to" prove, that, in climates the 
moft oppofite, the fame laws produce 
fimilar manners, cuflioms, and preju- 
dices. Their effed is the fame too 
with refped to agriculture. 

The lands 'pofleffed by the Malais 
are, in general, of a fuperior qua- 


[ 71 ] 
lity. Nature feems to have taken 
pleafure in there aflembling her moft 
favourite produdlions. They have 
not only thofe to be found in the 
territories of Siam, but a variety of 
others peculiar to thefe illands. The 
country is covered with odoriferous 
woods, fuch as the eagle or aloes 
wood, the fandal, and the caflia odo- 
rata, a fpecies of cinnamon. You 
there breathe an air impregnated with 
the odours of innumerable flowers of 
the greatefl fragrance, of which there 
is a perpetual fuccelTion the year 
round, the fweet flavour of which 
captivates the foul, and infpires the 
mofl: voluptuous fenfations. No tra- 
veller, wandering over the plains of 
Malacca, but feels himfelf fl:rongly 
impelled to wifh his refidence fixed in 
a place fo luxuriant in allurements, 


[ n ] 

where nature triumphs without the 
ailiflance of art. 

The Malay iflands produce various 
kinds of dying woods, particularly 
the Sapan^ which is the fame with 
the Brafil wood. There are alfo a 
number of gold mines, which the in- 
habitants of Sumatra and Malacca 
call Ophirs : fome of which, thofe 
efpecially on the eaflern coafl, are 
richer than thofe of Brazil or Peru. 
There are like wife mines of fine cop- 
per, mixed with gold, which the 
inhabitants name T'omhage. In the 
iflands of Sumatra and Banea are 
mines of calin, or fine tin ; and at 
Succadana, in the ifland of Borneo, 
is a mine of diamonds. Thofe if- 
lands enjoy alfo, exclufively, the ro- 
tin, the fagou, (or bread-palm-tree) 
the camphre, and other precious aro- 


[ 73 ] 
matics, which we know under the 
names of various fpiceries. 

The fea too teems with abundance 
of excellent fifh, together with am- 
bergris, pearls, and thofe delicate 
birds nefls (fo much in requeft in 
China) formed in the rocks with 
the fpawn of fifhes, and the foam of 
the fea, by a fpecies of fmall-fized 
fwallow, peculiar to thofe feas : this 
is of fuch an exquifite fubflance and 
flavour, that the Chinefe long pur- 
chafed them for their weight in gold, 
and ftill buy them at an exceflive 
In the midfl of all this luxuriance 
of nature, the Malay is miferable. 
The culture of the lands, abandoned 
to Haves, is fallen into contempt. 
Thefe wretched labourers, dragged 
D inceflantlj 

[ 74 1 

inceffantly from their ruflic employ- 
ments, by their refllefs maflers, who 
delight in war and maritime enter- 
prizes, have rarely time, and never 
refolution, to give the necefTary at- 
tention to the labouring of their 
grounds. Their lands, in generals 
remain uncultivated ; and produce no 
kind of grain for the fubfiflence of 
the inhabitants. 

S A GO u. 

The fagou-tree, in part, fupplies 
the defed of grain. This admirable 
tree is a prefent which bountiful na- 
t^ire has made to men incapable of 
labour. It requires no culture ; it is 
a fpecies of the pahn-tree, which 
grows naturally, in die woods, to 
the height of about twenty or thjrty 
feet; its circumference being fome- 


[ 75 3 
times from five to fix. Its ligneous 
bark is about an inch in thicknefs, 
and covers a multitude of long fibres, 
which, being interwoven one with 
another, envelope a mafs of a gum- 
my kind of meal. As foon as this 
\ree is ripe, a whitifh dull, which 
tranfpires through the pores of the 
leaves, and adheres to their extremi- 
ties, proclaims its maturity. The 
Malais then cut them down near the 
root, divide them into feveral fec- 
tions, which they fplit into quarters : 
they then fcoop out the mafs of 
mealy fubflance, which is enveloped 
by and adheres to the fibres ; they 
dilute it in pure water, and then 
pafs it through a fcraining bag of 
fine cloth, in order to feparate it 
from the fibres. When this pafle 
has lofl part of its moiflure by eva- 

D 2 poration, 

[ 76 ] 

poration, the Malais throw it into 
a kind of earthen vefTels, of different 
fhapes, where they allow it to dry 
and harden. This pafle is whoie- 
fome nourifhing food, and preferves 
for many years. 

The Indians, in general, when they 
eat the fagou, ufe no other prepara- 
tion than diluting it in water ; but 
fometimes they drefs it after differ- 
ent manners : they have the art of 
feparating the finefb of the flour, and 
reducing it to little grains, fomewhat 
refembling grains of rice. The fa- 
gou, thus prepared, is preferred to 
the other, for the aged and infirm ; 
and is an excdlent retnedy for many 
complaints in the flomach. When 
diluted, either in cold or boiling 
water, it forms a whitilh jelly, very 
agreeable to the taile. 


[ 77 ] 

Though this fagou-bearing-palm 
grows naturally in the forefls, the 
Malay chiefs have formed confider- 
able plantations of it, which confli- 
tute one of their principal refource^ 
for fubfiftence. 

They might have the finell orchards 
in the world, would they give them- 
felves the trouble to colledl the vari- 
ous plants of thofe excellent fruits 
which nature has fo liberally befto wed 
upon them : we find, however, none 
but a few flraggling trees planted at 
random around their houfes, or dif- 
perfed over their lands without fym- 
metry or order. 

The inhabitants of the great ifland 

of Java have fomewhat better ideas 

of agriculture, than the other Malais, 

^ S fince 

[ 78 ] 

fince their fubjedtion to the govern- 
ment of the Dutch. Thefe fovereign 
merchants have taken advantage of 
the feudal fyftem of the Malais, to 
reduce them under their yoke; art- 
fully weakening the regal power, by 
fomenting, at times, the rebellions 
of the great vafTals ; and humbling 
the vaflals, in their turn, by fuccour- 
ing their princes, when drove to the 
brink of ruin. 

The Javanefe begin to recover from 
that ftate of anarchy, the confequence 
of their ancient laws now almofl no 
longer remembered. They cultivate, 
with fuccefs, rice, coffee, indigo, and 
fugar-cane. They rear, on the eaflern 
coaft of the ifland and in the diflridls 
of Madur and Solor, in the neigh- 
bourhood, numerous herds of buffa- 

[ 19 I 
loes, of a monflrous fize ; their flefh is- 
excellent, and they are of infinite ufe 
in labouring the ground. They have 
likewiie numbers of horned cattle^ 
the largeft and finefl, perhaps, in the 
world. The common paflurage in 
this and the refl of the Malay iflands, 
is the fame grafs I have mentioned^ 
under the article of the ifle of France, 
which the coloniils there almoft en- 
tirely negledl. 

Here it would be proper to defcribc 
the manner of cultivating the fpice- 
ries, the indigo, the fugar-cane, and 
the camphre -, but thefe muft be the 
fubje<fl of another difcourfe. I could 
have wifhed alfo to have compre- 
hended, in this memoir, the obfer- 
vations I have made on the hufbandry 
of China. You could then have 
compared nation againft nation j and, 
D 4 after 

r 80 ] 

after having obferved agriculture de~ 
fpifed and dcbafed amongft barba- 
rians, opprefled and loaded with fet- 
ters ^by their frantic laws, the genu- 
ine produdions of delirium incom- 
patible with reafon, you would have 
beheld this art, (<iivine it may be 
called, as taught to man by the great 
author of his being) fupported and 
proteded by the mofl fimple of laws, 
thofe of nature, didated by her to 
the firfl inhabitants of the earth, and 
preferved, fince the beginning of 
time, from generation to generation, 
by one of the wifefl and greateft na- 
tions in the world. This compara- 
tive reprefentation, whilfl, on the 
one hand, it difplayed the mifery and 
misfortunes of every kind, which 
attend the negled of agriculture, 
would, on the other, have demon- 


[ 8i ] 

flrated how much this art, honoured, 
proteded, and encouraged as- it 
ought, will ever advance the happinefs 
of the human race. 


D 5 


O F A 




O F A 



I LAST year began to give you a 
fketch of my inquiries into the 
flate of agriculture among different 
nations of Africa and Afia. I ob- 
ferved, that fcarce a veftige of it 
could be traced amongft the ftupid 
the indolent negroes, who inhabit 
the wefteni coafls of Africa j whilft 
it flourilhed, under the fhade of li- 
berty, amongft the Hollanders at the 
Cape of Good Hope. I pointed out 
the happy abundance which reigned 


[ 86 ] 

in the fertile ifland of Madagafcar, 
inhabited by a people governed by 
the greateft fimplicity of manners, 
and unacquainted with other laws 
than thofe of nature. Whilfl I did 
juflice alfo to the fyflem of cultiva- 
tion that prevailed at the Ifle of Bour- 
bon, which, having no port, and of 
confequence little or no intercourfe 
with Europe, the colonifts have pre- 
ferved an uncorrupted fyflem of man- 
ners, ever favourable for agriculture, 
I was, at the fame time, under the 
neceffity of acknowledging, that this 
art, which requires perfeverance and 
fimplicity, was greatly negleded at 
the Ille of France, which, having 
two excellent ports, and being much 
frequented by European fhips, was 
more influenced by the iaconftant 
and volatile manners of car quarter 
©f the world; and that, in confe- 

[ 8? ] 
quence, though the foil, in point of 
fertility, was equal to Madagafcar 
and Bourbon, their harvefls gene- 
rally failed, and an aim oft perpetual 
fcarcity prevailed over the ifland. — 
I pafTed from thence to the great pe- 
ninfula of the Indies, where agricul- 
ture, however oppreiTed by the bar- 
barous laws of the Mogul conquerors, 
is ftill honoured and fupported by 
the religion, the manners, and the 
perfeverance of the conquered Mala- 
bars. — At Siam, under the happieft 
climate, and blefled with a foil infe- 
rior in fertility to no country in 
the world, agriculture we have ob- 
ferved debafed by the indignities of 
tyranny, and abandoned by a race of 
flaves, whom nothing can intereft, 
after the lofs of liberty.— I have re- 
prefented it almoft in the fame condi- 

[ 88 ] 

tion amongfl the Malais, who inhabit 
immenfe dominions, and innumera- 
ble iflands, where nature has diftri- 
buted her choicefl treafures, and la- 
vifhed her bounties with a profufion 
unknown to other regions. The de- 
ftrudive genius of the feudal laws, 
which keep this people in a perpetual 
ferment, permits not their applica- 
tion to the culture of the fineft foil 
in the world. Nature alone does all. 
1 am convinced that if the other na- 
tions of the earth, who have the mif- 
fortune to be governed by the feudal 
fyflem, inhabited a climate equally 
happy, and lands equally fertile with 
thofe of the Malais, their agriculture 
would be equally negleded : necclTity 
alone could force the plough into 
their hands. 


[ 89 ] 

h my lafl difcourfe I endeavoured 
to give you an idea of the moft inte- 
refting modes of local agriculture 
which came under my obfervation : 
my principal objed, however, was 
to enable you to remark, that in 
every country, in every quarter of 
the world, the ftate of agriculture 
depends entirely on the eftablifhed 
laws, and, confequently, on the man- 
ners, cuftoms, and prejudices from 
which thefe laws derived their origin. 
I now proceed. 


[ 90 ] 



Departing from the peninfula of 
Malacca, and the iflands of the Ma- 
lais, towards the north, I fell in with 
a fmall territory called Cancar^ but 
known, on the marine charts, under 
the name of Ponthiamas. Surround- 
ed by the kingdom of Siam, where 
defpotifm and depopulation go hand 
in hand, the dominions of Camboya, 
where no idea of eilablifhed govern- 
ment fubfifls ; and the territories of 
the Malais, whofc genius, perpetually 
agitated by their feudal laws, can en- 
dure peace neither at home nor a- 
broad : this charming country, about 


I 91 ] 
fifty years ago, was uncultivated, and 
almofl deftitute of inhabitants. 

A jChinefe merchant, commander 
of d veffel- which he employed in 
cdmmerce, frequented thefe coafts. 
Being a man of that intelligent re- 
fledtive genius, which fo charadlerif- 
tically marks his nation, he could not, 
without pain, behold immenfe tradls 
of ground condemned to fterility, 
though naturally more fertile than 
thofe which formed the riches of his 
own country : he formed, therefore, 
a plan for their improvement. With 
this view, having firfl: of all hired a 
number of labourers, fome Chinefe, 
others from the neighbouring nations, 
he, with great addrefs, infinuated 
himfelf into the favour of the moft 
powerful princes, who, for a certain 


[ 92 I 

fubfidy, affigned him a guard for his 

In the courfe of his voyage to Ba- 
tavia, and the Philippine iflands, he 
borrowed from the Europeans their 
mofl ufeful difcoveries and improve- 
ments, particularly the art of fortifi- 
cation and defence : with regard to 
internal police, he gave the preference 
to the Chinefe. The profits of his 
commerce foon enabled him to raife 
ramparts, fink ditches, and provide 
artillery. Thefe preliminary precau- 
tions fecured him from a coup de 
main, and proteded him from the 
enterprizes of the furrounding nations 
of barbarians. 

He diftributed the lands to his la- 
bourers, without the leaft refervation 
of any of thofe duties or taxes known 


93 ] 

by the names of fervice or fines of 
alienation ; duties which by allowing 
no real property, become the mofl 
fatal fcourge to agriculture, and is 
an idea which revolts againll the com- 
mon fenfe of every wife nation. He 
provided his colonifls, at the fame 
time, with all forts of inllruments 
proper for the labour and improve- 
ment of their grounds. 

In forming a labouring and com- 
mercial people, he thought, that no 
laws ought to be framed, but thofe 
which nature has eflablifhed for the 
human race in every climate : he made 
thefe laws refpeded by obeying them 
firft himfeif, and exhibiting an exam- 
ple of fimplicity, induflry, frugality, 

humanity, and good faith : he 

formed, then, no fyftem of laws — he 
did more — he eflablifhed morals. 


r 94 ] 

His territories foon became the 
country of every induflrious man, 
who wifhed to fettle there. His port 
was open to all nations. The woods 
were cleared ; the grounds judiciouf- 
ly laboured, and fown with rice ; 
canals, cut from the rivers watered 
their fields ; and plentiful harvefls, 
after fupplying them with fubfiflence, 
furnifhed an objed of extenfive com- 

The barbarians of the neighbour- 
hood, amazed to fee abundance fo 
fuddenly fucceed to fterility, flocked 
for fubfiflence to the magazines of 
Ponthiamas ; whofe dominions, at this 
day, are confidered as the moft plen- 
tiful granary of that eaflern part of 
Afia ; the Malais, the Cochin-chinefe, 
the Siamefe, whofe countries are na- 

[ 95 ] 
turally fo fertile, confiderlng this lit- 
tle territory as the mofl certain re- 
fource againfl famine. 

Had the Chinefe founder of this 
colony of mercantile labourers, in 
imitation of the fovereigns of Afia, 
-ellablifhed arbitrary impofls ; if by 
the introdud:ion of a feudal f)fl:em, 
of which he had examples amongfl 
the neighbouring nations, he had vell- 
-ed in himfelf the fole property of the 
lands, under the fpecious pretence of 
giving them away to his colonifls ; if 
he had made luxury reign m his pa- 
lace, in place of that fimplicity which 
diflinguifhed his humble dwelling ; 
had he placed his ambition in a bril- 
liant court, and crowds of fawning 
flaves ♦, had he preferred the agreea- 
ble to the ufeful arts, defpifmg the 
induflrious, who labour the ground 


[ 96 ] , 

with the fweat of their brow, and 
provide fuilenance for themfelves and 
their fellow creatures ; had he treated 
his alTociates as flaves ; had he re- 
ceived into his port ftrangers in any- 
other fhape than as friends ; his fields 
had flill been barren, his dominions 
unpeopled ; and the wretched inha- 
bitants mufl have died of hunger, 
notwithflanding all their knowledge 
of agriculture, and all the afTilliance' 
they could derive from the mofl ufe- 
ful inflruments either for tilling or 
fowing their grounds. But the fage 
Kiang-tfe, (the name of this judicious 
Chinefe) perfuaded that he fhould be 
always rich, if his labourers were fo^ 
eflablifhed only a very moderate duty 
on all the merchandize entered at 
his port ; the produce of his lands 
appearing to him fufficient to render 
him powerful and great. His inte- 

[ 97 ] 

grity, his moderation, and his huma- 
nity made him refpeded. He never 
wifhed to reign -, but only to efta- 
bliili the empire of reafon. His Ton, 
who now fills his place, inherits his 
virtues as well as his polTeffions : by 
agriculture, and the commerce he 
carries on with the produce of his 
lands, he* has become fo powerful, 
that the barbarians, his neighbours, 
flile him king, a title which he de- 
fpifes. He pretends to no right of 
fovereignty, but the nobleft ofj all, 
that of doing good •, happy in being 
the firft labourer, and the firft mer- 
chant of his country, he merits, as 
well as his father, a title more glori- 
ous than that of king — the friend of 

E How 

[ 98 ] 

How different fuch men from thofe 
conquerors fo celebrated, who amaze 
and defolate the earth ; who, abufmg 
the right of conqueft, have eflablifh- 
ed laws, which, even after the world 
has been delivered from thefe tyrants, 
has perpetuated, for ages, the mife- 
ries of the human race. 


To the northward of Ponthiamas 
we find the countries of Camboya 
and Tfiampa. They are naturally 
fertile, (Camboya in particular) and 
appear, in former times, to have 
been well cultivated ; but the go- 
vernment of thefe two little ftates, 
having no fettled form, the inhabi- 
tants being perpetually employed in 
deflroying tyrants, only to receive 


[ 99 ] 

Others 'in their place, have abandoned 
the culture of their grounds. Their 
fields which might be covered with 
rice, with herds, and with flocks, 
are deferts ; and the natives are re- 
duced 'to feed on a few wretched 
roots, which they gather from amidfl 
the brambles, which overfpread their 

Travellers are furprifed to find, at 
a little diftance from the wretched 
canton of Camboya, the ruins of an 
old city, built with ftone, the archi- 
tecture of which has fom^e refem- 
blance to that of Europe. The neigh- 
bouring fields too ftill preferve the 
traces of ridges : every thing (hews 
that agriculture and the other arts 
have once flour iihed there ; but they 
have now difappeared, with the na- 
tion who cultivated them. Thofe 
E 2 who 

[ 100 ] 

who at prefent inhabit this country 
have no hiflory, no tradition even, 
which can throw the fainteft light 
upon the fubjedt. 


The Cochin-chinefe, who border 
on Camboya to the north, obferving 
the lands of this kingdom defolate 
and abandoned, fome years ago took 
poiTeflion of fuch tracks as were mofl 
convenient, and have there intro- 
duced an excellent culture. The 
province of Donnay, ufurped in this 
manner from Camboya, is at prefent 
the granary of Cochin-china. This 
kingdom, one of the greateft in 
Eaflern Afia, about one hundred and 
fifty years ago, was inhabited by an 
inconfiderable nation, barbarous and 
favage, known by the name of Loi^ 


L loi J 

who, living partly by fifliing, partly 
on roots, and the wild fruits of the 
country, paid little regard to agricul- 

A Tonquinefe prince, unfuccefsful 
in a war he carried on againfl the 
king of Tonquin, (under v/hom he 
enjoyed an office fomewhat refem- 
bling the maires de palais, under the 
Merovingian race of the kings of 
France) retired with his foldiers and 
adherents acrofs the river which di- 
vides that kingdom from Cochin- 
china. The favages, v/ho then pof- 
felTed this country, fled before thefe 
flrangers, and took refuge among 
the mountains of Tfiampa. After a 
long war with their old enemies, who 
purfued them, the Torquinefe fugi- 
tives remained at length peaceable 
poffeflbrs of the country knov/n un- 
E 3 dcr 

[ I02 ] 

tier the name of Cochin-china : it ex- 
tends about two hundred leagues 
from north to fouth, but narrow and 
unequal from eafh to weft. They 
then applied themfelves entirely to 
the cultivation of rice, which, being 
the ordinary food of the inhabitants 
of Afia, is to them an objed of the 
greateft importance. They feparated 
into little cantonments, and eftablifh- 
ed themfelves on the plains, which 
extend along the banks of the rivers. 

The fertility of the foil, which had 
lain long uncultivated, foon recom- 
penfed their labours by abundance; 
population increafed in proportion 
to the culture; and their cantons 
extended in fuch a manner, that all 
the plains of this vaft country being 
put into a ftate of improvement, they 
*were tempted to make encroach- 

[ >03 J 

ments on thofe of Camboya, which 
were in a manner totally abandoned. 
I never faw any country where the 
progrefs of population was fo re- 
markable as in Cochin-china, v/hicli 
mufl be attributed not only to the 
climate, and the fertility of the foil, 
but to the fimplicity of their man- 
ners, to the prudence and indullry 
of the women as well as the men, 
and to the variety of excellent fifli, 
which, with rice, is their ordinary 


The Cochin- chinefe cultivate fix 
different kinds of rice : the Littk 
Rice, the grain of which is fmall, ob- 
long and tranfparent -, this is by far 
the moft delicate • it is generally ad- 
E 4 miniftred 

[ I04 ] 

miniflered to the fick ; the Great Long 
Rice is that whofe form is round : 
the Red Rice^ fo called, becaufe the 
grain is envellopped in a hulk of a 
reddifli colour, which adheres fo 
clofely, that it requires a very uncom- 
mon operation to feparate it. Thefe 
three kinds are produced in the great- 
eft abundance, and form the princi- 
pal fubfiftence of the natives. They 
require water, it being neceifary to 
overflow the grounds where they are 

They raife alfo two other forts of 
dry rice, which grow in dry foils, 
and, like our wheat, require no other 
watering but what they receive from 
the clouds. One of thefe fpecies of 
rice has a grain as white as fnow ; 
when drelTed it is of a flimy vifcous 
fubftance ; they make of it different 


[105 ] 
kinds of pafle, iuch as vermicelli. 
Both thefe kinds form a confiderable 
article in their commerce to China. 
They cultivate them only on the 
mountains and rifmg grounds, which 
they labour with the fpade. They 
fefW thefe grains as we do wheat, 
about the end of December or begin- 
ning of January, when the rainy fea- 
fon ends i thev are not above three 
months in the ground, and yield a 
plentiful crop^^ , ^^ 

I am induced to believe, that the 
culture of this valuable grain would 
fucceed extremely well in France. 
In the years 1749 and 1750 I often 
travelled over the mountains of Co- 
chin-china, where this rice is culti- 
vated ; they are very high, and the 
temperature of the air cold : in the 
month of January, 1756, I obfen-ed 
E ^- that 

[ 106 ] 

that the rice was very green, and 
above three inches high, although 
the liquor in Reaumur's thermometer 
was only about four degrees above 
the freezing point. 

I carried fome quintals of this 
grain to the lile of France, where it 
was fown with fuccefs, and produced 
a greater crop than any other fpecies. 
The colonifls received my prefent 
with the greatell eagernefs, as, ex- 
clufive of its fuperior increafe, it has 
a finer tafte, is attended with lefs 
trouble, there being no neceffity for 
ovei flowing the fields ; and, as it 
ripens fifteen or twenty days fooner 
than the other kinds, it can be reap- 
ed and fecured before the hurricane 
feafon, which frequently makes dread- 
ful havock with their later harvefts. 
The other kinds of rice, being of a 


[ loy ] 
flower growth, require their grounds 
to be laid under water, after the 
manner of the natives of the Coro- 
mandel coaft * ; but our colonifts pay 
fo httle attention to agriculture, that 
they have never hitherto introduced 

One might have imagined, that the 
advantages flowing from the cultiva- 
tion of dry rice, would have engaged 
the colonifls to attend to it with the 
greatefl care ; and that, from the Ifle 
of France, it might have been with 
eafe introduced into Europe : but I 
have in vain endeavoured to procure 
it from this ifland ; thofe to whom I 
have applied, have fent me only com- 
mon rice, which demands v/ater and 

warmth. The culture of dry rice 


* See page 39. 

[ io8 ] 

has, like every other fpecies of agri- 
culture, been abandoned to the un- 
experienced ignorance of (laves, who 
have mixed all the different kinds 
together, in fuch a manner, that the 
rice of Cochin-china being ripe long 
before the others, the grains have 
dropt from the ears before they were 
reaped, and the fpecies, in this man- 
ner, has been, by degrees, entirely 
loft in that ifland. Would any travel- 
ler, whom bufmefs or curiofity might 
Lad to Cochin-china, fend over but a 
few pounds of this excellent grain, 
he would deferve our warmeft ac- 

The Cochin-chinefe cultivate the 
common rice nearly in the fame man- 
ner with the Malabars on the Coro- 
mandel coaft. After having twice 
ploughed their ground, they fow 



the rice in a little field which has 
been well laboured with the fpade ; 
the furfaceof this little field they juft 
cover with water, to the height only 
of a few lines •, and as foon as the 
rice is about five or fix inches high, 
they harrow over their large fields, 
and overflow them with water ; then 
pulling up the rice-plants in the feed- 
plots, tranfplant them into thefe 
grounds, thus prepared, in fmall 
parcels of four or five ftalks, about 
the diflance of fix inches the one 
from the other. Women and chil- 
dren are generally employed in this 

The Cochin-chinefe have no ma- 
chine for overflowing their grounds, 
nor have they any occafion : their 
plains, from one end of the king- 
dom to the other, are commanded by 

a chain 

[ no ] 
a chain of high mountains, plentifully 
fupplied with fprings and rivulets, 
which naturally overflow the grounds, 
according as their courfe is direded. 

They cultivate likewife different 
kinds of grains, fuch as the mahis, 
millets of different forts, feveral fpe- 
cies of the French bean, potatoes, 
yams, and a variety of roots proper 
for the fubfiftence of men and ani- 
mals. But the culture of moft im- 
portant advantage to them, next to 
the rice, is the fugar-cane ; and j]o 
country in Afia produces it in greater 
abundance than the Cochin-china. 


The fugar-canes of this country are 
of two kinds: the iirft grows thick 
and tall, the joints at a confiderable 


[ III ] 

diftance from one another, the co- 
lour always green, the juice abun- 
dant, with very litde of the fait in 
it. This fpecies of cane is in general 
ufe for feeding and fattening of cat- 
tle ; and experience teaches them, 
that no kind of food fattens fooner 
or better the human fpecies, as well 
as animals, than this fugar-cane, eat 
while green, and the fugar which is 
extradted from it. 

The fecond fpecies is fmaller in 
every refpedl, with its joints ap- 
proaching nearer together : when 
ripe it alTumes a yellow colour ; and 
contains lefs water, and more fait, 
than the other. 

The Cochin-chinefe, when prepar- 
ing the ground for the fugar-cane, 
turn it up to the depth of two feet ; 


[ 112 ] 

this operation is performed with a 
plank. Tliey then plant joints or 
eyes of the cane, three and three to- 
gether, in a horizontal pofition, in 
the fame manner almoft as they plant 
vines in feveral provinces of France. 
Thefe flips are planted chequer- wife 
about eighteen inches deep in the 
ground, diftant fix feet from one an- 
other ^ this operation they perform 
near the end of the rainy feafon, in 
order that the flips may be fufficiently 
watered, till fuch time as they have 
taken root. During the flrfl fix 
months, they give them two dref- with a kind of pick-axe, in 
order to deftroy the weeds, and pre- 
fer ve a moifture about the roots of 
the canes, by heaping the earth a- 
round them. 



[ 113 ] 

Twelve, and fometimes fourteen, 
months after the plantation, they ga- 
ther the firfl crop. By this time the 
canes, though planted at the diflance 
of fix feet, become fo bulhy that it 
is impoflible to enter the field, with- 
out the afliflance of a hatchet to clear 
your way. 

The canes being cut, and tied up 
into bundles, are carried to the mills, 
in order to extract their juice. I fhall 
not here defcribe the form of thefe 
machines, which refemble in a great 
meafure thofe of the Wefl-Indies : in- 
flead of water, they em.ploy horned 
cattle or mules to fet in motion the 
two cylinders, between which the 
fugar- canes are prefTed. Thefe en- 
gines have been defcribed by num- 
bers of travellers. 


[ iH ] 

The juice being extraded, they 
boil it fome hours in large kettles, in 
order to evaporate part of its water : 
it is then tranfported to the neigh- 
bouring market, and fold in that 
condition. Here ends the induflry 
and the profits of the Cochin-chinefe 
planter. The merchants purchafe the 
juice, which refembles pure water; 
they boil it again, throwing into the 
kettles fome alkaline fubflance, fuch 
as the afhes of the leaves of the mufa 
or bananier, and fhell-lime ; they 
are acquainted with no other ; thefe 
ingredients throw up a thick fcum, 
which the refiner carefully fkims off : 
the adion of the alkali haflens the 
feparation of the fait from the water, 
and, by the force of ebullition, re- 
duces the juice of the cane to the 
confiilence of fyrup. As foon as this 


[ 115 J 
lyrup begins to granulate, they de- 
cant it into a great earthen veiTel, 
where they cool it about an hour ; 
when a kind of crufl, ftill foft, and 
of a yellowifh colour, appears on the 
furface of the fyrup ; they lofe not a 
moment then to empty it into a vef- 
fel of a conic fhape, which they call 
a form. Without this intermediate 
operation of cooling the fyrup, it 
would harden into a mafs, and not 
being granulated, would confequent- 
ly want one eflential quality of fu- 

Thefe fugar-cones, or forms, in 
Cochin-china, are, like thofe of our 
Wefh-India colonies, of baked earth, 
about three feet high, pierced at their 
narrow extremities, and contain in 
general about forty or fifty pounds 
of fugar. Thefe forms^ when full, 


[ ii6 ] 

are placed on another earthen veffel, . 
the mouth of which is proportioned 
to receive the narrow end of the 
cone, and mufl be large enough to 
contain the coarfe fyrup, which diilils 
from the fagar, through fome flraw 
which imperfectly flops up the little 
opening in the bottom of the/t?r^. 

When they fuppofe the fyrup has 
acquired the confiflence of fait in 
every part of the cone, they then 
proceed to whiten and purify it. 
Th'i'y dilute, in a trough, a fine fort 
of whitifli clay, v/ith fuch a quantity 
of water as, when ^thus prepared, 
prevents it from having too much 
confiflence ; with a truel they then 
lay it upon the furface of the fugar 
to the thick nefs of about two inches, 
in the void fpace left at the top of 
the form by the condenfmg of the 


[ 117 J 
fugar, after purging itfelf of the 
coarfer fyrup or melafies. The wa- 
ter contained in the clay penetrating 
by degrees into the mafs, wafhes it, 
and carries off infenfibly the remain- 
ing fyrup, and every foreign particle 
that adheres mofl clofely to the fu- 
gar. When the clay hardens, they 
replace it with a frefli quantity, di- 
luted as the firfl : this operation, 
which lafts about twelve or fifteen 
days, is the fame here as in our 
Wefl-India colonies. Some refiners of 
Cochin-china, however, have another 
method. In place of clay, tempered 
thus with water, they cut into fmall 
pieces the trurk of the mufa or ba- 
nanier, which they place upon the 
fugar : the trunk of this tree is very 
watery ^ the water of the detergent 
quality ^ and diftills from the fibres, 


[ u8 ] 

which envelope it, in very fmall 
drops. Thofe who follow this me- 
thod pretend, that the operation is 
thereby rendered lefs tedious, and 
that the fugar acquires a finer co- 

The procefs of the Cochin-chinefe, 
in refining their fugar, goes no fur- 
ther : they are unacquainted with 
the floves in ufe in the Wefl-Indies. 
After having clayed their fugars fuf- 
ficiently, they fell them in the public 
markets, particularly to the Chinefe, 
and other ftrangers, who are invited 
to their ports by the moderate price 
of this commodity, which is cheaper 
at Cochin-china than any where in 

The white fugar of the beft quality 
is generally fold at the port of Faifo, 


[ IIP ] 

in exchange for other merchandize, 
at the rate of three piaftres (about 
fourteen fhillings) the Cochin-china 
quintal, which weighs from one hun- 
dred and fifty to two hundred pounds 
French *. The trade in this commo- 
dity is immenfe. The Chinefe alone, 
whofe lands do not produce enough 
for their own confumpt, purchafe an- 
nually from Cochin-china above forty 
thoufand barrels, weighing about two 
thoufand pounds per barrel. 

This country, it fhould be obferved, 
which produces this commodity in 
fuch abundance, and at fo low a 
price, being a new kingdom, ought 
to be confidered, in fome meafure, 
as a colony : it is worthy obfervation 


* Ninety one pounds eight ounces French 
make one hundred pounds Englifii. 

[ I20 ] 

too, that the fugar-cane is there cul- 
tivated by free men, and all the pro- 
cefs of preparation and refining, the 
work of free hands. Compare then 
the price of the Cochin-chinefe pro- 
dudlion with the fame commodity 
which is cultivated and prepared by 
the wretched Haves of our European 
colonies, and judge if, to procure 
fugar from our colonies, it was ne- 
celTary to authorize by law the fla- 
very of the unhappy Africans tranf- 
ported to America. From what I 
have obferved at Cochin-china, I can- 
not entertain a doubt, but that our 
Weft-India colonies, had they been 
diftributed without obfervation a- 
mongft a free people, would have 
produced double the quantity that is 
now procured from the labour of the 
unfortunate negroes. 

• What 


[ 121 ] 

What advantage, then, has accrued 
to Europe, civilized as it is, and tho- 
roughly verfed in the laws of nature, 
and the rights of mankind, by le- 
gally authorizing in our colonies the 
daily outrages againfh human nature, 
permitting them to debafe man almoft 
below the level of the beafls of the 
field ? Thefe flavifh laws have proved 
as oppofite to its intereft as they are to 
its honour, and to the laws of huma- 
nity. This remark I have often made. 

Liberty and property form the ba- 
fis of abundance, and good agricul- 
ture: I never obferved it to flourifh 
where thofe rights of mankind were 
not firmly eftablidied. The earth, 
which multiplies her produdions 
with a kind of profufion, under the 
hands of the free-born labourer, 
F feems 

[ izz ] 

feems to ftirink into barrennefs under 
the fweat of the flave. Such is the 
will of the great author of our na- 
ture, who has created man free, and 
afligned to him the earth, that he 
might cultivate his pofleilion with 
the fweat of his brow ; but fliil 
fhouid enjoy his liberty. 

The Cochin-chinefe, exclufive of 
the fugar cane, employ themfelvxs in 
the culture of a variety of other pro- 
ductions,- of great importance both 
to their interior fabrics, and external 

They cultivate the cotton-tree, the 
mulberry, the pepper, the varnifli- 
tree, the date, the tea, the indigo, 
and the faffron, together with a plant 
peculiar to the country, called T/ai, 
which, being fermented like indigo, 


[ 123 ] 
furnifhes in great plenty a flower of 
a green colour, which in dyiiig, 
gives a durable tindture of a fine eme- 
rald colour. This plant would un- 
doubtedly be a moll valuable prefent 
to our Weft-India colonies. 

I muft at prefent decline entering 
into a defcription of the various pro- 
cefTes attending thefe different cul- 
tures. They will afford fubjedt for 
fome future memoirs. 

The foil in general, of Cochin- 
china, is excellent, and they culti- 
vate it well Their mountains in 
general are fallow, as population is 
not even fufficiently confiderable for 
the cultivation of all the plain 
grounds they have taken pofTeflion of 
,in Camboya : thefe mountains pro- 
duce, however, the eagle or aloes- 
F 2 wood, 

[ 124 ] 
wood, which is the moft precious 
perfume in the world ; the fapan- 
wood, the fame with that of Brafil ; 
and the cinnamon, in fmall quantities 
indeed, but much fuperior in quality 
to that of Ceylon. — The Chinefe pay 
three or four times more for it than 
for that which the Dutch import 
from that illand. They have feve- 
ral forts likewife of admirable wood 
for joyner and cabinet-work, parti- 
cularly the rofe-wood ; the tea-wood 
is excellent for building, , and is pre- 
ferred to all others in the conftruc- 
tion of the royal galleys, having eve- 
ry property that can be wilhed fpr ei- 
ther for beauty or folidity. From their 
mountains alfo, and from the forefts 
with which they are covered, they 
procure ivory, mufk, wax, iron, and 
gold in great abundance. - Thefe 


[ 125 ] 
mountains too are full of game, 
fuch as deer, antelopes, wild goats, 
peacocks, pheafants, &c. The chace 
is free to all, but dangerous from 
the number of tygers, elephants, 
rhinoceros, and other carnivorous 
and deftruc^ive animals, with which 
the forefts abound. 

The fea, which wafhes their coafts, 
as well as the rivers, are well fup- 
plied widi excellent fifh. Every one 
has the liberty of fifhing ; and in this 
the Cochin-chinefe take great delight. 
I hav^e already obferved, that they 
live chiefly on filh and rice. 

Their domeftic animals are, the 
horfe for the road, the buffalo for 
labour, and the cow, the hog, the 
goat, the goofe, the duck, and hens 
of various kinds, for the table. Thefe 
F 3 animals 

[ 126 ] 

animals thrive extremely well, and 
are in great abundance. The king 
alone referves to himfelf the exclufive 
right of breeding elephants for the 
war ; and this is a refervation which 
no man envies him. He maintains 
generally four hundred of them ; he 
could maintain four thoufand men 
at a much lefs expence. The Cochin- 
chinefe have few good fruits ; the 
pine-apple, and oranges of different 
kinds, are the befl their country pro- 
duces. They do not cultivate the 
vine, though it is one of the native 
productions of their lands. They are 
but indifferently provided with pulfe. 
In a word, their orchards and their 
gardens are very inconfiderable. 
They attach themfelves to the more 
elfential branches of agriculture. 


[ 127 ] 

Although this art is not yet ar- 
rived at that degree of perfedtion in 
Cochin-china, to which it might be 
carried, widi the advantage of fuch 
an excellent foil, yet the manners of 
the people being very favourable, it 
flourifhes greatly. The Cochin-chi- 
nefe are gentle, hofpi table, frugal, 
and induflrious. There is not a 
beggar in the country ; and robbery 
and murder abfolutely unknown. A 
ftranger may wander over the king- 
dom, from one end to another, (the 
capital excepted) without meeting 
the llighteft infult : he will be every 
where received with a mod eager cu- 
riofity, but, at the fame time, with 
great benevolence. I have here re- 
marked a cufiom fingular indeed, but 
exprelTive of their goodnefs of heart. 
A Cochin-chinefe traveller, who has 
F 4 not 

[ 128 ] 

not money fufficient to defray his ex- 
pences at an inn, enters the firft 
houfe of the town or village he ar- 
rives at : no body inquires his bufi- 
nefs ; he fpeaks to none, but waits 
in filence the hour of dinner ; . fo foon 
as the rice is ferved up, he modeftly 
approaches, places himfelf at table 
along with the family, eats, drinks, 
and departs, without pronouncing a 
fingle word, or any perfon's putting 
to him a fingle queflion : it was e- 
nough they faw he was a man, a bro-« 
ther in diflrefs i they afked no fur- 
ther information. 

The fix firfl kings, founders of 
this monarchy, governed the nation 
as a father governs his family ; they 
eftablilhed the laws of nature alone ; 
they themfelves paid the firft obedi- 
ence to them. Chiefs of an immenfe 


[ 129 ] 
family of labourers, they gave the 
firft example of labour ; they honour- 
ed and encouraged agriculture, as the 
moft ufeful and honourable employ- 
ment of mankind. They required 
from their fubjeds only a fmall an- 
nual free-gift, to defray the expence 
of their defenfive war againft their 
Tonquinefe enemies. 

This impofition was regulated, by 
way of poll-tax, with the greateft 
equity. Every man, able to labour 
the ground, paid in to the magiflrate, 
on account of the prince, a fmall fum 
proportioned to the ftrength of his 
confhitution, and the vigour of his 
arm •, and nothing more. It was un- 
der their reign, that this nation mul- 
tiplied fo furprifingly, in confequence 
of the plenty furnifhed by the culture 
of their fields. Whilfl they rcign- 
F 5 ed, 

'[ ISO ] 

ed, the treaties entered into, on the 
banks of the river which feparates 
Tonquin from Cochin-china, between 
the chiefs of their family and thofe 
who followed them in their retreat, 
were moll religioufly obferved. It is 
to this reciprocal fidelity that Cochin- 
china owes its prefent flourifhing 
flate, with regard to power, popula- 
tion, and agriculture. Their fuccef- 
for, who now reigns, inherits their 
goodnefs of heart, but has the weak- 
nefs to fufFer himfelf to be governed 
by his Haves. Thefe have acquired 
^he art of feparating the interefl of 
the prince from that of his people. 
They have infpired him with the 
thirfh after perfonal riches. The vafl 
quantity of gold which they have 
dug from the mines, during this 
reign, has already proved d.etrimen- 
tai to induflry and agriculture. In 


[ 13' ] 

the palace it has been produ6live of 
luxury and corruption, its never- 
failing attendants. 

This prince has been infenfibly led 
to defpife the fimple habitations of 
his anceftors. He has built a fuperb 
palace, a league in circumference, fur- 
rounded by a wall of brick, on the 
model of that of Pekin. Sixteen hun- 
dred pieces of cannon, mounted a- 
round the palace, announce to the 
people the approaching lofs of their 
liberties and rights. 

He found a necelTity too for a win- 
ter palace, a fummer palace, and an 
autumn palace. The old taxes were 
by no means fufficient to defray thefe 
expences ; they were augmented -, and 
new impofitions devifed, which, be^ 


[ 132 ] 

ing no longer voluntary contributi- 
ons, could not be levied but by force, 
and tyrannical oppreliion. His cour- 
tiers^ who found their interefl in the 
corruption of their prince, have gi- 
ven him the title of King of Heaven : 
Fous I'foi^ hearing himfelf often fo 
ftiled, at length thought he might af- 
fume it — "Why," addrelTing him- 
felf one day to me, " don't you 
*' come oftener to pay your court to 
" the King of Heaven F' 

Thefe defigning fycophants, who 
.guard every avenue to the royal ear, 
have had the addrefs to over-awe the 
ordinary adminiflration of jullice ; 
and, taking advantage of exemption 
from punifhment, have pillaged the 
labourers, and filled the provinces 
with oppreflion and diftrefs. 


- [ 133 ] 

All along the high roads I have 
feen whole villages newly abandoned 
by their inhabitants, harraffed by 
fruitlefs toil, and never ending ex- 
adlions, and their fields, in confe- 
quence, falling back to their firfl un- 
cultivated flate. 

In the midfh of all this growing 
diforder, the prince, whofe mind has 
been furprized by fawning flatterers, 
and who alone is ignorant of the 
villainy of thofe around him, flill 
preferves a refpedl for the manners of 
his anceflors ; he does not, indeed, 
like his forefathers, give an example 
of perfonal labour, but flill his de- 
fire is to proted agriculture. 

I have 

[ 134 ] 

I have feen him, at the commence- 
ment of the new year, prefide, with 
all the fimplicity of his predeceflbrs, 
at the general aflembly of the nation, 
which is annually held on that day, 
in the open field, in order to renew 
the reciprocal oath for obfervation of 
the primordial contradl, which efta- 
blifhed him father of his people, at 
the fame time that they invefled him 
alone with the power, the noblefl 
indeed of all, of making his people 

When he fpeaks of his fubjefts, he 
calls them ftill by no other name 
than that of his children. 1 have 
feen him too allift, like a fimple in- 
dividual, in the annual aflembly of 
his family, according to the ancient 


r 135 ] 

ufage of the nation ; an affembly 
where the moil aged always prefide, 
without regard to the dignities of 
thofe of younger years. This, hov/- 
ever, Teemed to me only a formality 
venerable from cuflom ; for what is 
man, where the King cf Heaven ap- 
pears ? 

Corruption, it is true, has not yet 
infedted the general body of the peo- 
ple ; they flill preferve their primitive 
manners : it is hitherto corifined to 
the palace, and the capital : its fource, 
however, is too elevated to prevent 
its poifoned ftreams from flowing to 
the plains. It is from the great that 
the corruption of a people ever de- 
rives its origin. 

When it fhall have infeded every 
rank ^ when the foundations of agri- 


[ 136 ] 

culture, liberty and property, already 
attacked by the great, (hall be over- 
thrown ; when the profefTion of the 
farmer fhall become the moll con- 
temptible, and the leafl lucrative, 
what mull be the fate of agriculture ? 
Without a flourifhing agriculture, 
what mull be the fate of thofe multi- 
tudes, follered under its wing ? — 
What mull be the fate of prince and 
people ? — It will refemble that of the 
nation who poflefTed the country be- 
fore them ; perhaps that of the fava- 
ges, who yielded it to that nation : 
of them there are no remains, but the 
ruins of an immenfe wall, near the 
capital, which appears to have been 
part of a great city : it is of brick, 
and of a form very different from 
what is to be feen in the other coun- 
tries of Afia : no hillory, however, 


[ 137 ] 
no tradition has preferved the me- 
mory of the builders. 

Upon the whole I conclude, from 
the general corruption which threa« 
tens the manners of the Cochin -chi- 
nefe, that agriculture is on the de- 
cline, and that whatever efforts they 
may make to fupport it, it has now 
pafled its meridian, and muft infalli- 
bly degenerate. 


I now approach the period of my 
travels. Departing from the coafts 
of Cochin-china, and diredling my 
courfe towards the north- eafl, I pro- 
ceeded for China, which the Cochin- 
chinefe call, with great refpe6t, Nufe 
d' ai Ming — the Kingdom of the Great 


[ 138 ] 
Luminary. After fome days naviga- 
tion, before there was any appear- 
ance of land, I perceived along the 
horizon a forefl of mal3 >, and foon 
after an innumerable multitude of 
boats, >^hich covered the furface of 
the v/ater. Thefe were thoufands of 
fifhermen, whofe induflry drew from 
the deeps fubfiftence for numbers. 
The land now began to rife to my 
view ; I advanced to the mouth of 
the river, flill amidfl crowds of fifh- 
ers, throwing out their lines on eve- 
ry fide. I entered the river of Can- 
ton J it is peopled like the land ; its 
banks lined with (hips at anchor ^ a 
prodigious number of fmall craft are 
continually gliding along in every di- 
rection, fome with fails, others with 
oars, vanifhing often fuddenly from 
the fight, as they enter the number- 


[ 139 ] 
lefs canals, dug with amazing labour, 
acrofs cxtenfive plains, which they 
water and fertilize. Immenfe fields, 
covered with all the glory of the har- 
veft, with ftately villages rifing to 
the eye on every fide, adorn the re- 
moter view, whilfi: mountains, co- 
vered with verdure, cut into terraf- 
fes, and fhaped into amphitheatres, 
fopm the back ground of this noble 

I arrive at Canton, where new fub- 
jedls for admiration arife ^ the noife, 
the motion, the crowd augments ; 
the water, as well as land, being e- 
very where covered with multitudes. 
Aflonilhed at the amazing appear- 
ance, I inquire into the numbers of 
inhabitants of this city and fuburbs ; 
and, after comparing different ac- 
counts, find that they mull amount 


[ I40 ] 

at leaft to eight hundred thoufand 
fouls. My furprize, however, is great- 
ly increafed, when I learn, that, to 
the northward of Canton, about five 
leagues up the river, is a village 
named Fachan, which contains a mil- 
lion of inhabitants, and that every 
part of this great empire, extending 
about fix hundred leagues from north 
to fouth, and as much from eaft to 
weft, was peopled in the fame pro- 

By what art can the earth produce 
fubfiftence for fuch numbers ? Do the 
Chinefe poffefs any fecret art of mul- 
tiplying the grain and provifions ne- 
ceflary for the nourifhment of man- 
kind P To folve my doubts I traver- 
fed the fields, I introduced myfelf a- 
mong the labourers, who are in ge- 
neral eafy, polite, and affable, with 


[ 141 ] 

fome (hare of learning, and know- 
ledge of the world. I examine, and 
purfue them through all their opera- 
tions, and obferve that their fecret 
confifls fimply in manuring their fields 
judicioufly, ploughing them to a con- 
fiderable depth, fowing them in the 
proper feafon, turning to advantage 
every inch of ground which can pro- 
duce the moil inconfiderable crop, 
and preferring to every other fpecies 
of culture that of grain, as by far 
the moft important. 

This fyftem of culture, the lafl ar- 
ticle excepted, appears to be the fame 
that is recommended in all our befl 
authors, ancient and modern, who 
have wrote on this fubjed ; our com- 
mon labourers are acquainted with it ; 
but how much mufl our European 
farmers be furprized, when they are 


[ 142 ] 

informed, that the Chinefe have no 
meadows, natural nor artificial, and 
have not the leafl conception of fal- 
lowing, never allowing their lands the 
flightefl repofe. 

The Chinefe labourer would con- 
fider meadows, of every denomina- 
tion, as lands in a flate of nature ; 
they fow their lands all with grain, 
and give the preference to fuch 
grounds as we generally lay out in 
meadows, which, lying low, and be- 
ing properly fituated with refpedl to 
water, are confequently by far the 
moil fertile. They affirm, that a field 
fown with grain, will yield as much 
ftraw for the nourifhment of cattle, 
as it v/ould have produced of hay, 
befides the additional advantage of 
the grain for the fuflenance of man, 
of which they can fpare too, in plen- 

[ 143 ] 

tiful feafons, a fmall portion for the 
animal creation. 

Such is the fyflem adhered to 
from one extremity of their empire 
to the other, and confirmed by the 
experience of four thoufand yearsi, 
amongft a people, of all the nations 
in the world, the moil attentive to 
their interelt. 

That which mufl render this plan 
of agriculture the more inconceiva- 
ble to Europeans, is the idea of their 
never allowing their lands to lie one 
feafon unlaboured. Thofe who for 
fomc years have endeavoured, with 
fuch public-fpirited zeal, to re-ani- 
mate amongft us this negleded art, 
have confidered, as the firft and mofl 
important objedl, the multiplication 


[ 144 ] 
of artificial meadows, to fupply the 
defedt of natural ones, for the fatten- 
ing of cattle •, without once venturing 
to think of fupprefling the mode of 
fallowing the grounds, however far 
they carried their fyftem of increafmg 
the number of artificial paftures. 

This fyftem, which appears the 
moft plaufible of any they have pro- 
jeried, and is received with the 
greateft partiality by our farmers, is, 
neverthelefs, contradidled by the con- 
ftant experience of the greateft and 
the moft ancient land-labouring na- 
tion in the world, who regard the 
pradice of meadows, and fallowing 
grounds, as an abufe, deftrudtive of 
plenty and population, which are 
the only important objedls of agricul- 


[ '45 ] 

A Chinefe labourer could not but 
fmile, if you informed him, that the 
earth has occafion for repofe at a cer- 
tain fixed period of time : he certain- 
ly would fay, that we deviated great- 
ly from the point in view, could he 
read our treatifes ancient and modern, 
our marvellous fpeculations on agri- 
culture : what would he fay, if he 
faw our lands, part of them fallow, 
part of them employed in ufelefs cul- 
tures, and the remainder wretchedly 
laboured ? What would he fay, what 
mufl be his feelings, if, in travelling 
over our fields, he obferved the ex- 
treme mifery and barbarifm of their 
wretched cultivators P 

The Chinefe lands, in general, are 

not fuperior to ours ; you fee there, 

G as 

[ 146 ] 

as with us, fome excellent grounds, 
others middling, the reft: bad ; fome 
foils ftrong, others light ; lands where 
clay, and lands where fand, gravel, 
and flints every where predominate. 

All thefe grounds, even in the 
northern provinces, yield annually 
two crops, and in thofe towards the 
fouth often five in two years, without 
one fingle fallow feafon, daring the 
many thoufands of years that they 
have been converted to the purpofes 
of agriculture. 

The Chinefe ufe the fame manures 
as we do, in order to reftore to their 
grounds thofe falts and juices, which 
an unintermitting produdtion is per- 
petually confumjng. They are ac- 
quainted with marl ^ they employ al- 


[ 147 ] 
lb common fait, lime, afhes, and all 
forts of animal dung, but above all 
that which we throw into our riv^ers : 
they make great ufe of urine, which 
is carefully preferved in every houfe, 
and fold to advantage : in a word, 
every thing produced by the earth 
is re-conveyed to it with the greateil 
care, into whatever fhape the opera- 
tions of nature or art may have tranf- 
formed it. 

Wlien their manures are at any 
time fcarce, they fupply the defi- 
ciency, by turning up the ground, 
with the fpade, to a great depth, 
which brings up to the furface of the 
field a new foil, enriched with the 
juices of that which defcends in its 

G z Without 

[ 148 ] 

Without meadows the Chinefe 
maintain a number of horfes, buffa- 
loes, and other animals of every fpe- 
cies neceflary for labour, for'fuHie- 
nance, and for manure. Thefe ani- 
mals are fed, fome with llraw, others 
with roots, beans, and grain of every 
kind. It is true, they have fev/er 
horfes, and horned cattle, in propor- 
tion, than we have, yet it is not ne- 
cefTary that they fhould have more. 

The whole country is cut into ca- 
nals, dug by the induflry of the in- 
habitants, extending from river to ri- 
ver, which divide and water this vafl 
empire, like a garden. TraveUing, 
tranfporting of goods, almofl every 
fpecies of carriage is performed on 
thefe canals, with great cafe, and 


[ 149 ] 
fmall expence : they don't even ule 
horfes to drag their boats -, every 
thing is done by the fail or the oar, 
which they manage with Tingular 
dexterity, even in going up the ri- 
vers. Where any kind of labour csii 
be performed, at a moderate price 
by men, it is a maxim with them 
never to employ animals. In conie- 
quence of this, the banks of their 
canals are cultivated almofl to the 
water's edge -, they loie not an inch 
of ground : their public roads refem- 
ble our foot-paths ♦, their canals, how- 
ever, are infinitely more ufeful than 
highways : they convey fertility every 
where, and furnifh the people great 
part of their fubfiflence in fiili. — 
There is no comparifon between the 
weight which can be tranfported in 
a boat, and that which can be con- 
G 3 veyed 

[ ISO ] 
veyed by any kind of land-carriage ; 
no proportion between the expence. 

The Chinefe are ftill lefs acquainted 
with the ufe, or rather the luxury of 
chariots, and equipages of every kind, 
which crowd the principal cities of 
Europe. The horfes necefTary for 
thefe, alTembled in thoufands in our 
capitals, confume the produce of 
numberlefs acres of our befl grounds, 
which, if cultivated with grain, 
would afford fubfifhence for multi- 
tudes, v/ho are dying of hunger. 
The Chinefe wifh rather to maintain 
men than horfes. 

The emperor and chief magiflrates 
are carried through the cities by men, 
with fafety and with dignity ; their 
march is fedate and majeftic, it 
threatens not with danger tliofe who 


L 151 J 

walk on foot : they travel in a kind 
of galleys, fafer, more commodious, 
equally magnificent, and lefs expen- 
five than our land equipages. 

I have before obferved, that the 
Chinefe lofe not an inch of ground. 
They are very far, therefore, from 
allotting immenfe parks, of the fined 
ground, for the maintenance alone of 
deer, in contempt of the human race. 
The emperors, even thofe of the Tar- 
tar line, have never hitherto dream- 
ed of forming thefe parks ; flill lefs 
the grandees, that is, the magiflrates 
and the learned : fuch an idea could 
never find place in the mind of a 
Chinefe. Even their country houfes, 
and boxes of pleafure, prefent no- 
thing to the eye all around, but ufe- 
ful cultures, agreeably diverfified, 
G 4 That 

[ 152 ] 
That which conflitntes their princi- 
pal beauty, is their delightful fitua- 
tion, judicioufly improved, where, 
in the difpofition of the various parts 
which form the whole, there every 
where reigns a happy imitation of 
that beautiful diforder of nature, 
from whence art has borrowed all her 

The moft rocky hills, which, in 
France, and other places of Europe, 
they turn into vineyards, or totally 
negled, are there compelled, by dint 
of induflry, to produce grain. The 
Chinefe are acquainted, indeed, with 
the vine, which here and tliere they 
plant in arbours ; but they confide r 
it as a luxury, and the wine it pro- 
duces as an unnecelTary fuperfluity : 
they would imagine it a fin againft 
^ humanity, to endeavour to procure, 


[ 153 ] 

by cultivation, an agreeable liquor, 
whilfl, from the want of that grain 
which this vineyard might have pro- 
duced, fome individual perhaps might 
be in danger of perifhing of hunger. 

The fteepeft mountains, even, are 
rendered acceilible : at Canton, and 
from one extremity of the empire to 
another, you obferve mountains cut 
into terralles, reprefenting, at a dif- 
tance, immenfe pyramids divided 
into different fhages, which feem to 
rear their heads to heaven. Every 
one of thefe terralTes yields annually 
a crop of fome kind of grain, even 
of rice ; and you cannot v/it-h-hold 
your admiration, when you behold 
the water of the river, the canal, or 
the fountain, which glides by the foot 
of t:he"rii6unt'ain, taifed fronl' terra fs 
tly terrafs, even to die fiimmit, by 
G r means 

[ 154 ] 
means of a fimple portable machine, 
which two men with eafe tranfport 
and put in motion. 

The fea itfelf, which feems to 
threaten the folid globe it furrounds, 
has been compelled, by induftry and 
labour, to yield part of its dominions 
to the Chinefe cultivator. 

The two finefl provinces of the 
empire, Nanking and Tche-kiang, 
formerly covered with water, have 
been united to the continent fome 
thoufands of years ago, with an art 
infinitely fuperior to that which is fo 
-much admired in the modern works 
of Holland. 

The Chinefe had to llruggle with 
a fea, whofe natural flux from eafl 


[ 155 ] 
to weft urges it continually towards 
the coafts of thefe two provinces ; 
whiift the Dutch have had nothing 
to oppofe but a Tea, which, by the 
fame natural motion, always avoids 
their weftern fhores. 

The Chinefe nation is capable of 
the moft ftupendous works ; in point 
of labour I never obferved their e- 
quals in the world. Every day in the 
year is a working day, except the 
firft, deftined for paying reciprocal 
vifits, and the laft, which is confecra- 
ted to the ceremonial duties they pay 
to their anceflors. 

An idle man would be treated 
v^ith the moft fovereiga contempt, 
and regarded as a paralytic mem- 
ber, a load to the body of whicli he 
made a part ; the government v/ould 


[ 15^ J 
in no manner permit it. How oppo- 
fite from the ideas of other Afiatics, 
where none are admitted to any de- 
gree of eflimation, but thofe who, 
from their fituation in hfe, have no- 
thing to do ! — An ancient emperor 
of China, in a public inllrudion, ex- 
horting the people to labour, ob- 
ferved, that if in one corner of the 
empire there was one man who did 
nothing, there mufl, in fome other 
quarter, be another who fufFers on 
that account, deprived of the necef- 
l^ries of hfe. This wife maxim is 
fixed in the breaft of every Chinefe ; 
and, with this people fo open to rea- 
fon, he who pronounces a wife max- 
im pronounces a Jaw. 

Behold, gentlemen, a flight fketch 
of the general pidure of Chinefe agri- 
culture, with the peculiar genius of 


[ 157 ] 
that people for this art. The limits 
of my difcourfe will not permit me 
at prefent to enter into a detail of the 
different cultures I have feen in this 
country : I (hall only obferve, that 
they are fuch as abundantly fup- 
ply all the wants, and conveniencies 
of the mod populous nation in the 
world, and furnifh with their fuper- 
fluity, an important article for foreign 

From thefe obfervations it is ob- 
vious, that agriculture flourifhes in 
China more than in any other coun- 
try in the world : yet it is not to any 
procefs peculiar to their labour, it is 
not to the form of their plough, or 
their method of fowing, that this 
happy ftate, and the plenty confe- 
quent on it, is to be attributed ; it 
muil chiefly be derived from their 


r 158 ] 

mode of government, the Immovea- 
ble foundations of which have been 
laid deep, by the hand of reafon 
alone, coeval almoft with the begin- 
ning of time ; and from their laws, 
didated by nature to the firfl of the 
human race, and facredly preferved 
from generation to generation, engra- 
ved in the united hearts of a great 
people, not in obfcure codes, de- 
vifed by chicanery and deceit. — In a 
word, China owes the profperity of 
her agriculture to the fimp.icity of 
her manners, and to her laws, which 
are the laws of nature and reafon. 

This empire was founded by la- 
bourers, in thofe happy times when 
the laws of the great Creator were 
(till held in remembrance, and the 
culture of the earth confidered as the 
noblefl of all employments, the moft 


[ '59 ] 
worthy of mankind, and the general 
occupation of all. From Fou-hi (who 
was the firil chief of this nation, fome 
hundreds of years after the deluge, 
if we follow the verfion of the Scp- 
tuagint, and in this quality prefided 
over agriculture) all the emperors, 
without exception, even to this day, 
glory in being the firfl labourers of 
their empire. 

The Chinefe hlllory has carefully 
preferved an anecdote of generofity 
in two of the ancient emperors, who, 
not perceiving among their children 
any one worthy to mount a throne, 
which virtue alone ought to inherit, 
named, as their fuccelTors, two fimple 
labourers. Thefe labourers, accord- 
ing to the Chinefe annals, advanced 
the happinefs of mankind, during 
very long reigns ; their memory is 


[ i6o ] 

flill held in the highell veneration. 
It is unneceiFary to obferve how 
much examples, fuch as thefe, ho- 
nour and animate agricuhure. 

The Chinefe nation has ever been 
governed like a family, of which the 
emperor is father : his fubjedls are 
his children, without any other ine- 
quality but that which is eflablillied 
by, talents, and by merits. Thofe 
puerile diftindions of noblejfe^ and 
plebeians J men of family^ and men of 
mean birth^ are no where to be found 
but in the jargon of new people, flill 
barbarous, who, having forgot the 
common origin of all men, infult 
without refledion, and debafe the 
whole human race ; whilft that na- 
tion whofe governm.ent is ancient, 
datfng its commencement with the 


[ i6i J 

firfl ages of the world, are fenfible 
that all men are born equal, all bro- 
thers, all noble. Their language has 
not even hitherto invented a term 
for exprefling this pretended diftinc- 
tion of birth. The Chinefe, who 
have preferved their annals from the 
remoteft times, and who are all 
equally the children of the emperor, 
have never fo much as fufpeded an 
inequality of origin amongfl us. 

From this principle, that the em- 
peror is father, and the people his 
children, fpring all th5 duties of fo- 
ciety, all the duties of morality, 
every virtue of humanity, the union 
of every wifh for the common good 
of the family, ^confequently an at- 
tachment to labour, and above all to 


[ l62 ] 

This art is honoured, proteded, 
and pradtifed by the emperor, and 
the great magiflrates, who generally 
are the fons of plain labouring men, 
whom merit has raifed to the firft 
dignities of the empire ; and, in a 
word, by the whole nation, wlio 
have the good fenfe to honour an art 
the mofl ufeful to mankind, in prefe- 
rence to others more frivolous, and 
Itfs important. 


On the fifteenth day of the firft 
moon, in every year, which gene- 
rally correfponds to the beginning of 
March, the emperor in perfon per- 
forms the ceremony of opening the 
grounds. This prince, in great pomp, 


[ i63 ] 

proceeds to the field appointed for 
the ceremony : the princes of the im- 
perial family, the prefidents of the 
five great tribunals, and an infinite 
number of mandarins accompany 
him. Two fides of the field are oc- 
cupied by the emperor's officers, and 
guards ; the third is allotted for all 
the labourers of the province, who 
repair thither to behold their art ho- 
noured and pradifed by the head of 
their empire -, the fourth is referved 
for the mandarins. 

The emperor enters the field alone, 
proflrates himfelf, and nine times 
ftrikes his head againfl the ground, 
in adoration of Tien^ the God of hea- 
ven ; he pronounces, with a loud voice, 
a prayer appointed by the tribunal 
of rites, invoking the bleffing of the 
almighty fovereign on his labour, and 


[ i64 ] 

on the labour of his people, who form 
his family ; he then, in quality of fo~ 
vereign pontiff of the empire, facri- 
fices a bullock, which he offers up to 
heaven, as the fource of every blef- 
fing : whilfl they cut the vidim in 
pieces, and place them on the altar, 
they bring to the emperor a plough, 
in which are yoked a pair of bul- 
locks, magnificently adorned. The 
emperor then, laying afide his royal 
robes, takes hold of the handle of 
the plough, and turns up feveral fur- 
rows the whole length of the field ; 
then, with a complaifant air, having 
delivered the plough to the mandarins, 
they fuccelFively follow his example, 
emulating one another in perform- 
ing this honourable labour with the 
greatefl dexterity. The ceremony 
concludes with the diftribution of 
money, and pieces of fluff, among 


[ ^es ] 

the labourers there prefent ; the mofl 
adive of whom finifh the remaining 
labour, in prefence of the emperor, 
with great agility and addrefs. 

Some time after, when they have 
fufficiently laboured and manured 
their grounds, the emperor repairs 
again, in proceflion, and begins the 
fowing of the fields, always accorii- 
panied with ceremony, and attended 
by the labourers of the province. 

The fame ceremonies are perform- 
ed, on t\i^ fame days in all the pro- 
vinces of the empire, by the viceroys, 
aiTifted by all the magiflrates of their 
departments, in prefence of a great 
number of the labourers of their re- 
fpedive provinces. I have feen this 
opening of the grounds at Canton, 
and never remember to have beheld 


[ i66 ] 

any of the ceremonies, invented by 
men, with half the pleafure and fatif- 
fadion with which I obferved this. 


The Chinefe agriculture has, at the 
fame time, other encouragements. 
Every year the viceroys of the pro- 
vinces fend to court the names of 
fuch labourers as have chiefly diftin- 
guifhed themfelves in their employ- 
ments, either by cultivating grounds 
till then confidered as barren, or, by 
a fuperior culture, improving the 
produdion of fuch lands as formerly- 
had bore grain. Thefe names are 
prefented to the emperor, who con- 
fers on them honorary titles, to dif- 
tinguilh them above their fellow-la- 
bourers. If any man has niade an 



[ i67 ] 
important difcovery, which may in- 
fluence the improvement of agricul- 
ture, or fhould he, in any manner, 
deferve more diftinguifhed marks of 
regard than the reft, the emperor 
invites him to Pekin, defraying his 
journey, with dignity, at the expence 
of the empire ; he receives him into his 
palace, interrogates him with regard 
to his abilities, his age, the number 
of his children, the extent and qua- 
lity of his lands -, then difmiiTes him 
to his plough, diftinguifhed by ho- 
nourable titles, and loaded with be- 
nefits and favours. 

Who is happieft, gentlemen, the 
prince who conduds himfelf in this 
manner, or the nation who Ts thus 
governed ? Amongft a people where 
.all are equal, where every one afpires 


[ i68 ] 
after diftindions, fuch encourage- 
ments cannot fail to infpire a love 
for labour, and an emulation for the 
cultivation of the ground. 


The whole attention, in general, 
of the Chinefe government, is dired:- 
ed towards agriculture. The princi- 
' pal objedl of the father of a family, 
ought to be the fubfiflence of his 
children. The ftate of the fields, in 

I confequence forms the great objed 
of the toils, the cares, and the folici- 
tudes of the magiftrates. It may 
eafily be conceived, that, with fuch 
difpofitions, the government has not 

[negleded to fecure to the labourers 
that liberty, property, and indul- 

[ i69 ] 

gence which are the great iprlngs 
for the improvement of agriculture. 

The Chinefe enjoy, undiilurbed, 
their private poiTelfions, as well as 
thofe which, being by their nature 
indivifible, belong to all, iuch as the 
fea, the rivers, the canals, the fifh 
which they contain, and the bealls of 
the forefl : navigation, fifhing, and 
the chace are free to every one ; and 
he who buys a field, or receives it 
by inheritance from his anceftors, is 
of courfe the fole lord and mafler. 

The lands are free as the people ; 
no feudal fervices, and no fines of 
alienation -, none of thofe men inte- 
refted in the misfortunes of the pub- 
lic ; none of thofe farmers who never 
amafs more exorbitant fortunes, than 
when an unfavourable feafon has ruin- 
H ed 

[ 17° ] 
cd the country, and reduced the un- 
happy labourer to perilh for want, af- 
ter having toiled the year round for 
the fullenance of his fellow fubjedls -, 
none of that deftrudive profeflion, 
hatched in the delirium of the feudal 
fyflem, under whofe aufpices arife 
millions of procelTes, which drag the 
labourer from his plough into the ob- 
fcure and dangerous mazes of chi- 
cane, and thereby rob him while de- 
fending his rights, of that time which 
would have been importantly employ- 
ed in the general fervice of mankind. 


In China there is no other lord, no 
other fuperior, who has power to le- 
vy taxes, but the common father of 
the family, the emperor. The bon- 

[ 171 ] 
zes^ (priefts of the fed of Fo-hi) ac- 
cuflomed to receive alms from a cha- 
ritable people, would be very indif- 
ferently received, fhould they pretend 
that this alms is a right which heaven 
has beftowed upon them. 


This import, which is not exadly 
the tenth part of the produce, is re- 
gulated according to the nature of 
the grounds : in bad foils it is perhaps 
only the thirtieth part, and fo in pro- 
portion. This impofl, however, of 
the tenth part of the produce of 
the earth, which belongs to the em- 
peror, is the only t^x on the lands, 
the only tribute known in China 
fince the origin of the monarchy ; 
and fuch is the happy refpedt which 
the Chinefe have for their ancient 
H 2 cuf- 

[ 172 ] 

cufloms, that an emperor of China 
would never entertain the moll dif- 
tant thought of augmenting it, nor 
his fubjeds the leafl apprehenfion of 
fuch augmentation. The people pay 
it, in kind, not to avaricious far- 
mers-generals, but to upright magif- 
trates, their proper and natural go- 
vernors. The amount of this tri- 
bute, though apparently trifling, muft 
be imm^enfe, v^^hen we confider that 
it is levied on every fcot of ground 
of the' miofl extenfive and beft cul- 
tivated empire in the woild. This 
tax is paid with the greateft fidelity, 
as they know the purpofes to which it 
is applied. They know, that part 
of it is laid up in immenfe maga- 
zines, diflributed over every province 
of the empire, and allotted for the 
maintenance of the magiflrates and 


[ 173 J 
foldiery : they know, that, in the 
event of fcarcity, thefe magazines are 
open to all, and the wants of the 
people fupplied with part of that 
which was received from them in 
times of abundance : they know too, 
that the remainder of this impoft is 
fold in the public markets, and the 
produce of it faithfully carried to 
the treafury of the empire, the cuf- 
tody of which is intrufbe4 to the re- 
fpedable tribunal of Ho-pou^ from 
whence it never is ifTued but to 
fupply the general wants of the fa- 


[ 174 ] 


Recoiled, gentlemen, what I have 
faid of the laws, the manners, and 
the cufloms of the different rations 
of Africa and Afia, the flate of whofe 
agriculture I have examined : com- 
pare nation with nation, and then 
judge, if the unfortunate Malabar, 
without property, fubjedled to the 
tyrannical government of the Mo- 
guls ; judge if a race of flaves, un- 
der the iron fcepter of the defpote 
of Siam ; judge if the Malais, ever 
turbulent, and fettered by their feu- 
dal laws ; judge, I fay, if thefe na- 
tions, though poflefling the finefl 
grounds in the world, can pofTibly 


[ 175 ] 
ever make agriculture to flourifh like 
the Chinefe,- governed as a family^ 
and fubjedted to the laws of reafon 
alone. — I fhall again repeat, therefore, 
with confidence, that, in every coun- 
try in the world, the fate of agricul- 
ture depends folely on the laws there 
eflabli filed, on the maniiers of the 
people, and even on the prejudices 
which derive tlieir origin from tliDie 

What Induftry hadi the inhabitants 
of the earth difplayed, from one ex- 
tremity of the globe to the other, in 
rendering themfelves unhappy 1 Crea- 
ted to live in fociety, to cultivate 
the earth, and enjoy from their la- 
bour the infinite bleflings of the great 
Creator, they had only to liften to 
the voice of nature, who would have 
taught them happinefs below : in place 


[ 176 ] 

of which, they have flrained their fa- 
culties in the invention of barbarous 
inflitutions, and perplexing legiflati- 
ons, which being ill adapted to the 
feelings of mankind, and difcordant 
with that law which is engraved in 
every man's breafl, their eflablifh- 
ment could only be effeded by force, 
deluging the world with blood ; and 
which, once eftablifned, have conti- 
nued to defolate the earth, checking 
population, by the oppreffion of agri- 


What an objecfl for an attentive 
traveller, to obferve the ftate of agri- 
culture amongfl the various people 
who divide the globe 1 In Europe 
behold it at prefent flourifhing, in a 


[ 177 ] 
country which, during many prece- 
ding ages was reduced to the necefli- 
ty of begging fubfiftence amongfl 
the neighbouring nations, who pof- 
fefled a happier climate, and a greater 
extent of territory. During thofe 
ages of barbarifm, their lofs of hber- 
ty and right of property brought 
along with them the ruin- of cultiva- 
tion ; nor has (he recovered thofe na- 
tural rights of mankind, and re-efla- 
blilhed the foundations of drooping 
agriculture, but through feas of 
blood, and outrages (hocking to hu- 


Africa, in general, whofe regions, 
known to the ancients, were confi- 
dered as the granaries of the world, 
now prefent nothing to the view but 


[ 178 1 
grounds either intirely negle(fled, or 
wretchedly cultivated by the labour 
©f Haves. 


South - America, covered with 
marfhes, brambles, and woods, be- 
holds her extenfive tracks hardened 
even by the fweat of her labourers in 
chains. The northern regions of that 
quarter of the world are inhabited 
by inconfiderabie tribes of lavages, 
miferable, and without culture ; yet 
free, and, in confequence, lefs wretch- 
ed perhaps than thofe nations who 
pretend to be civilized -, but who, be- 
ing farther removed from the laws of 
nature, by the privation of thofe 
rights which (he beflows, make in- 
efFedual efforts to procure that hap- 


[ 179 ] 
pinefs, which a gcod agriculture alone 
can produce. 


The vafl continent of Afia offers 
to your confideration, in one quar- 
ter, an immenfe uncultivated region, 
peopled by a race of banditti, more 
intent on plunder than the cultiva- 
tion of their grounds ; in another, a 
great empire, formerly flourifhing, 
and excellently laboured, now inha- 
bited by the poor remains of a 
wretched people, perifhing with hun- 
ger from the negled of agriculture, 
and fhedding their blood, net for li- 
berty but for a change of tyrants. 
This charming fertile quarter of the 
world (the cradle of the human race) 
now beholds her lands in ilavery, her 
labourers in chains, fubjeded either 


[ i8o ] 

to the blind defpotifm of unfeeling 
tyrants, or the deflrudive yoke of 
the feudal fyflem. 

But turn your eyes to the eaftern 
extremity of the Afiatic continent, 
inhabited by the Chine fe, and there 
you will conceive a ravifhing idea of 
the happinefs the world might en- 
joy, where the laws of this empire the 
model of thofe of other countries. 
This great nation unites under the 
fhade of agriculture, founded on li- 
berty and reafon, all the advantages 
polTefTed by whatever nation, civi- 
lized or favage. The blefling pro- 
nounced on man, at the moment of 
his creation, feems not to have had 
its full effe6t, but in favour of this 
people, who have multiplied as the 
fands on the (bore. 


[ i8i ] 

Princes, who rule over nations ! 
arbiters of their fate ! view well this 
perfpedlive ; it is worthy your atten- 
tion. Would you wifli abundance 
to flourifh in your dominions, would 
you favour population, and make 
your people happy ; behold thofe in- 
numerable multitudes which over- 
ipread the territories of China, who 
leave not a fhred of ground unculti- 
vated ; it is liberty, it is their undif- 
turbed right of property that has 
ellabliflied a cultivation fo flourilh- 
ing, under the aufpices of which this 
people have increafed as the grains 
v/hich cover their fields. 

Does the glory of being the moll 
powerful, the rlchefl, and the hap- 
piefl of foverelgns touch your ambi- 
tion, turn your eyes towards Pekin, 


[ i82 y 

and behold the mofl powerful of 
mortal beings feated on the throne 
of reafon : — he does not command, 
he inflaids ; — his words are not de- 
crees, they are the maxims of juf- 
tice and wifdom ; — his people obey 
him, becaufe his orders are didated 
by equity alone. 

He is the mofl powerful of men, 
reigning over the hearts of the mofl 
numerous fociety in the world, who 
conftitute his family. — He is the 
richefl of fovereigns, drawing from 
an extent of territory fix hundred 
leagues fquare, cultivated even to the 
fummits of the mountains, the tenth 
of thofe abundant harvefls it incef- 
fantly produces : this he confiders as 
the wealth of his children, and he 
hufbands it with care. — To film up 
all, he is the happiefl of monarchs, 



tailing every day the inexprefllblc 
pleafure of giving happinefs to mil- 
lions, and alone enjoying, undivided, 
that fatisfadtion which his fubjedls 
(hare — his children ! all to him equal- 
ly dear ; all living like brothers, in 
freedom and abundance, under his 

He is called the fon of Tieity as the 
true and mofl perfed image of hea- 
ven, whofe benevolence he imitates ; 
and his grateful people adore him as a 
God, becaufe his condudt is worthy 
of a Man. 




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